Brit Enaam Ahmed dominated the World KF Junior weekend at Essay in France to secure his fifth consecutive major international title of the season. Ahmed bounced back from engine woes at the start of the final to sprint away from his competition and take a comfortable win.“The world title is something I’ve wanted to achieve since I began karting,” Ahmed said. “I hadn’t run that engine and carburettor over the weekend before the final. It kept dying and misfiring on the formation laps and I could only use 75 per cent power in the opening laps. From around lap six, I sorted the carb and the engine began heating up which helped me to pull away.“To actually make five titles become a reality is tough. I kept my head down. Essay isn’t a very forgiving track. The surface is very abrasive and if you make a mistake, your race is ruined. You have to be smooth and consistent. I knew I had to be on pole. I haven’t done that all season, and made it more difficult for myself. I couldn’t be lazy and had to dominate.”
Perhaps two of Karting magazines more well-travelled reporters are the ace commentator Ken Walker and photo/journalist Mike Hayden. Occasionally they meet up at the same event, either in the UK or at some foreign port. In quieter moments between races there is an opportunity to catch up on each other’s karting travels, with often fascinating but untold stories behind the reports that appear each month in Karting magazine.
In the last few years Mike has visited all the European countries several times, including Canada, Egypt, Norway, and Japan, whilst Ken can add South Africa, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and a number of visits to the USA to his other destinations.
At the end of 2009 they both recently embarked on another pilgrimage to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Cup, where once again Ken could be found behind the microphone, with Mike behind the camera trying to find the safest place to stand. So whilst Ken was escorted to somewhere comfortable to ply his craft, Mike scoured the barrier landscape for places he could try to hide behind. Over a beer on the promenade, which acts as the Grand Prix pit-lane when the Formula 1 circus arrives, the chance to swap a few stories presented itself.
“I often see some of the places where photographers stand and think ‘no way!’ After a few near misses over the last few years, risk has become one of the first hazards that I tend to assess, especially as I became older,” Mike said. “It is easy to describe it as a sixth sense, but taking photographs usually needs two eyes. It is hard to forget how I once thought, crouched safely behind a marshal’s post, that the picture I had just taken did not feel ‘right’. Glancing up, the sight of a backward travelling Jules Bianchi confirmed that ‘not right’ feeling, as he looped around the marshal’s post. I can still move quick if I have to, but one of his rear tyres still left a sticky black mark across the toe of my right shoe! At least I got the pic just before he lost control…”
Ken, on the other hand, tends not to have to worry too much about wayward racing drivers. “Everybody reminds me how lucky I am to be able to travel all over the world doing karting commentaries and journalism,” Ken said. “I often reflect that I am indeed a very fortunate guy. Just occasionally I do mention that it can be hard going at times, involving hours upon hours in the air on long haul flights, and then long days (often over 12 hours) at the track. But nobody bites on that so I back off.”
“Yeah,” Mike nodded in agreement. “There can be long hours spent travelling, and probably a lot of people do not appreciate what we do. It is very satisfying when drivers stop for a chat though, and sometimes you do get a ‘what are you doing all the way out here..?’ Last year, and the year before, I covered the Asia-Pacific Championship at Suzuka in Japan, which for me was 24-hours door-to-door, so with the jet-lag it means going to work the day afterwards is never going to be easy.”
On the whole though Ken probably spends more time airborne, visiting as he puts it “some rather nice destinations”, although it does not mean all in the garden is rosy. “Perhaps the worst aspect is that I often get to some very exotic places, only to find after a tight arrival time that I also have to make a hasty exit, to be on time for my next gig somewhere else thousands of miles away.
“Probably the worst of those experiences was in South Africa for the National Championships at Zwartkops raceway. Staying with Ed Murray, South Africa’s Mr. Karting, he reminded me that I was just a few hours’ drive from one of the best Game Reserves in the World, and that I could stay indefinitely with him and have the use of a car to get out and see the wonderful wildlife. Then I had to remind him, and myself, that I was due at a track back in Europe just four days later, and was booked on the overnight flight back home from Johannesburg that night!”
Both Ken and Mike have been to Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt, where true life has not been experienced unless a trip with a local taxi driver has been added to a CV. “It is hard to forget,” Mike said, “when I first met up with you in 2004 for the Rotax World Finals, when the rasp of metal-on-metal every time the taxi driver pressed the brake pedal, suggested that the brake linings of his ageing Peugeot were perhaps a thing of the past. After that I tended to walk as much as I could..!
“It did give me the chance though to experience a touch of the desert life, when I joined up with Tristram Oman and his crew, including Ian Lawson from Warden Law, when nine of us hired quad bikes and went off into the mountains, escorted by two locals. It was a bit silly of me though to wear contact lenses, which meant at one stage when I could no longer see, and contact lens wearers will know what I mean, I just had to stop. Fortunately Tristram and Ian stopped with me, but it meant we lost touch with the group. It also meant that after clearing my eyes, and by the time we re-started we were also lost anyway. We had a half hour to kill, with Tristram demonstrating his quad biking prowess over the dunes, before a frantic and worried looking guide had come doubling back, after he noticed his numbers were lower than he had started with!
“There were two other highlights that week though. One was testing the then new Rotax DD2 at Ghibli Raceway the day after the finals. When such offers are made they have more often than not always been accepted! The other was when it rained mid-week… in the desert..!”
Sharm-el-Sheikh, however, is not alone for dodgy taxis and taxi drivers. In Dubai, Ken and the Officials at the Middle East Kart Cup booked a taxi, were duly picked up, and then endured a nightmare tour as the driver, clearly without a clue where the Kartdrome was, telephoned his boss on his mobile at every high speed on the approach to a junction, with Ken grimacing at the memory, to ask ‘which way next?’
2009 meanwhile also marked Ken’s return to the Ghibli Raceway in Egypt, where things did not work out completely as expected. Plying their journalistic/photographic craft to the karting masses is not without its rigours. “I had a great break in my favour this summer, or so I thought. Ghibli is one of the more glamorous venues I visit. Back-to-back weekends for successive rounds of the Middle East Kart Cup would allow time in between for some genuine tourism. Night time racing on the second weekend would ensure that we would not be too hot, and the days to ourselves would be a treat.
“The trip did not get off to the best of starts when after a six hours flight, a tight late night connection in Cairo was very nearly missed. We just made it on to the plane, but shortly after 2.30am in Sharm’s baggage reclaim hall, we all had to accept that the cases hadn’t made it. So, after just three hours sleep we were at the track at 7.30am, less than bright eyed and bushy tailed, unshaven, and in yesterday’s travelling clothes! Still we got through that little ordeal, delivered the goods in the sweltering heat, pausing for a break between 11.30am and 4.00pm to avoid the harshest of the Egyptian summer sun.
“The Monday after that first round weekend called for an early 6.00am start as we skipped breakfast, and set off the 100 miles or more inland into the desert to St. Katharine’s Monastery, the sight of the Burning Bush where God spoke to Moses, and on the mountain where Moses was given the Ten Commandments. It was a very dramatic drive and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The last 200 yards to the Monastery were uphill, but there were Bedouin Arabs offering camel rides for that last leg of the journey, and it made sense to clamber up and have a rolling ride.
“I had ridden a camel previously with no problems and this ride was pleasant and uneventful. Until, it was time to dismount that is. The normally sure footed ‘ship of the desert’ managed to slip as he knelt down, and I was dealt a massive thump in the small of my back from the short hard pommel behind the saddle, sufficient to make me yell out loudly. Then just to even things up as he completed his sitting down exercise, and with my guard well and truly down from the back pain, I got another clout round the front this time.
“So there we were, camel sitting comfortably and me sitting not nearly so comfortably and completely unable to move or even to think about clambering off the beast. Fortunately, Dick Newton was the scrutineer in the team, and being a big burly fellow, he lifted me down and for the rest of that day, and indeed for all subsequent days in Egypt, more or less carried me about.
“To the amazement of all of us in the group, there was a small desert hospital only a mile away and so that was where we went. None of us spoke Arabic of course and the doctor didn’t speak English, but when we pointed to my painful areas and mentioned the word camel, he immediately nodded and clicked into action. We all got the impression that I was not the first patient with this particular affliction, and the thought crossed our minds that maybe this was the purpose of having a hospital there in the first place.
“It’s a matter of personal and professional pride that I turned up for all of the following weekend’s karting sessions and did what I was there to do. I didn’t do too much kneeling down for grid interviews before the Finals, and possibly my commentary was delivered in a higher pitch voice than usual! The anticipated CIK clearance for the races to take place under floodlights was not forthcoming, so we raced on in the July sunshine in temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius!!
“The one bonus, if it can be called that, to come my way, was that for our flight back home, Egyptair gave me the full ‘Assisted Passenger’ treatment of wheelchair, Hoist Lift on to the plane, extra dedicated seats at the back of the aircraft, and very welcome in the circumstances, an assisted by-pass of the delights of the departures hall at Cairo airport.
“I was a bit sore on the long journey home, but had my spirits lifted considerably by the kindness and thoughtfulness of my colleagues. They had put their heads together and bought me a couple of souvenirs: a soft toy cuddly camel, and a packet of crushed nuts!”
Amused by Ken’s lost luggage story, Mike’s trip to Wackersdorf in Germany in the summer of 2009 for the KZ2 championship, offered a similar experience. The flight to Nuremberg needed a change in Zurich, “only Swissair neglected to transfer my case onto the flight into Germany. We were already running late from London City after the pilot announced that the plane was too heavy for take-off. Maybe they unloaded my case there and then? So once in Nuremberg, having made the mistake of packing into the missing case the place where I was staying, Lufthansa loaned me a computer so I could go on-line and find where I needed to be.
“Like you though I had to spend the following day with the on-set of early beard growth, wearing an XXL size t-shirt Lufthansa had kindly given to me. Most foreign photographers have a reasonable grasp of English, although the kind comments of “nice t-shirt Mike” wears off after a dozen or so mentions. Had it been windy I reckon airborne images would have been possible!”
“By the way,” Ken warned, “be wary next time you are on a flight and the captain announces that the aircraft is too heavy for take-off. That’s the tale they told me when I was leaving Denver in Colorado, after the USA Rotax Grand Nationals,” Ken recalled. “The flight to Newark, New Jersey, for a transatlantic connection to Birmingham back in England was scheduled to take three hours or so, with another hour and a half before the connection. But the captain, very unconvincingly, spun us a yarn about unloading some fuel to become light enough for take-off. We would then put down in St. Louis for a re-fuel and be at our destination with no more than 20 minutes overall delay. We were four hours in St. Louis and missed the Birmingham flight by hours. I spent the following day, my birthday, unable to access my bags, so unshaven and bedraggled and trudging round the delights of downtown Newark in the rain, before catching my flight home 24 hours late.”
A glamorous life? Well, yes, in a strange sort of way maybe. And perhaps spooky too?
“Some years ago,” Mike said, “I was with Chris Walker in Germany and we got lost travelling to the hotel, arriving too late after the place had locked its doors until breakfast, so it meant a night in the car. Chris can apparently sleep anywhere, but around 3am, through the misted up windscreen, I saw some flickering lights. A minute or so later around 20 or so people walked slowly past the car, chanting like something out of ‘Damian – The Omen’. Chris had taken the keys out of the ignition, so I remember thinking, ‘sorry mate, but if this turns nasty, I’m legging it across that field, big time!’ After they had passed, maybe it was his own photographer’s sixth sense, but Chris opened an eye with a ‘what?’ ‘Never mind,’ I said, ‘just go back to sleep…’ A couple of dozen burnt-out tea-lights were found near the hotel door the following morning – weird or what?”
But whilst most international travel is carried out alone, and more often than not with few problems, just occasionally co-incidences arise. On the way to Japan in 2008 Mike bumped into two of the KSP guys, Philippe Kalmes and Frederic Billet, who had arranged for a car to take them from Nagoya to Suzuka. It saved on a long train ride. And then for the more recent KF2 World Cup event at Alcaniz in Spain, after a 250 mile Friday late evening drive from Barcelona, Mike bumped into… Philippe and Frederic at the same hotel in Sastago, which was absolutely miles from anywhere, and both of whom just happened to know the way to the track on Saturday morning..!
”I think that there are probably far too many incidents and coincidences to recall here,” Mike offered, “and we could be doing this all day long, but never let it be said that travelling abroad is always boring..!” to which Ken readily agreed. “No, never boring. There’s always the prospect of the racing to think about, and the people you are going to meet. And no matter what trials and tribulations come my way, I still reckon it’s a real privilege to be able to do what I do.”
“I’ll drink to that,” said Mike. “Whose round is it anyway? Is the editor paying?”
The first round of the WSK Super Master Series was at Sarno at the end of March with practice under warm and dry conditions but much of the racing was in the wet.
Daniel Ticktum claimed KFJ victory after fighting Leonardo Lorandi on a very wet track with it finally being decided when Lorandi overshot the track. Enaam Ahmed was third.
Karol Basz was unbeatable in KF where he finished 4s ahead of Callum Ilott who had a good start from the third row. World champion Tom Joyner had won the Pre-final but dropped to the back after early contact, although he recovered well to 13th.
There was a big field of KZ2s as their world championship will be at Sarno in September. Bas Lammers won in only his second race with Formula K, although helped by the wet conditions.
The following weekend was the 25th Margutti Trophy at Lonato. Marco Zanchetta dominated the event in KZ2 and finished the final in formation with Maranello team-mate Lorenzo Camplese.
Max Fewtrell took his second win of the season in KFJ, staying ahead at each stage of the event. Ross Martin, in only his second international race, came in 5th but Ticktum retired.
KFJ world champion Alessio Lorandi took the KF win ahead of Julien Fong from Irish squad Kartronix. There were no British drivers in the class but plenty of entries from British teams.
On 13th April it was back to the WSK Super Master Series, this time at Castelletto. Ardigo controlled the KZ2 final just ahead of Lammers. and took the lead of the championship. Top Brit was Ben Hanley in 5th.
Jehan Daruvala was unbeatable in the KF final, winning ahead of Gabriel Aubry. Karol Basz kept his championship lead with 3rd and Lando Norris had a welcome return to form with pole in qualifying although he was 9th in the final.
Venezuelan driver Mauricio Baiz won KFJ and 6th-placed Dan Ticktum was the top Brit.
The South African Kart Racing Academy (SAKRA) was established in 2008 and is a section 21 charity aimed at developing the talent of young people in need of support, by introducing them to education and opportunities in motorsport.
The academy aspires to select, equip and develop young people with the necessary skills to assert themselves as competitive international racing drivers in the years to come. The purpose of SAKRA is as much to uplift youngsters from challenged communities as it is to produce competitive racing drivers. SAKRA driver training includes the discipline of motor engineering as this is applicable to racing teams. Those drivers who do not end up driving competitively are therefore equipped for a career in motorsport either as engineers or mechanics.
In 2012, SAKRA driver Eugene Denyssen became the first driver from the Academy to achieve a South African National Championship when he won the Junior Max Championship. Eugene has this to say: “I’m 16 years of age and so incredibly thankful for the opportunities which SAKRA has afforded me. In 2009 I was awarded the Minimax Rookie of the Year. In 2010 I was able to lay claim to 2nd place in the Minimax South African National Championship but just knew I’d have to put in a lot of hard work in 2011 when I moved to Junior Max.
“Junior Max is an incredibly competitive class here in SA, and I soon learnt it was the same worldwide. By the end of 2011 I was able to lay claim to 3rd position in the SA National Championship, so with just one more year left in Junior Max and a whole pile of determination and the unwavering support of my SAKRA team-mates and coaches, nothing was left to chance. Testing and more testing, what I was eating, how much exercise and nutritional intake and reviewing each race over and over again all became part of the routine. But I so desperately wanted to experience the Rotax Grand Finals which I’d heard about, nothing was too much.
“I know it’s a bit of a kart cliché, but special thanks to my Dad who never gave me a hard time when I needed to be at the circuit and the SAKRA Team, whose constant reassurance gave me the confidence to ‘reach for my dream’. It all happened for me and on November 26th 2012 I joined the Rotax international family in Portimao. Words cannot describe the experience. Thank you Rotax!”
The Academy is not only about our drivers, it’s also about giving opportunities to young people to uplift themselves and here we are very proud of Chad Bell. Chad joined the SAKRA family aged 14 and had to catch a bus and walk to the circuit in order to participate. Right from the start he put some really good race results on the board. But all Chad wanted in life was to be an engineer; coming from a technical high school this was always going to be a challenge. His determination and hard work saw to it that Chad’s final school marks qualified him for one of the best universities in the country. Chad now does some driver training for the junior SAKRA drivers. Chad says: “I am 19 years old and I started my karting career racing in an Extreme chassis powered by a PRD engine. I raced with that equipment until the end of 2008 and I finished 3rd overall for the year.
“Thereafter I moved to mainstream karting, competing against South Africa’s best drivers in the Rotax Senior Max class. In the first two races I surprised many by finishing 1st and 2nd in them respectively. The following few races challenged me as I struggled to keep up with the pace of the other competitors and that frustrated me. Midway through the season the SAKRA management helped me a lot with finding the pace that I once had and from that point I fought my way back into the championship fight with two consecutive race day wins and the third race day win won me my first regional championship.
“The Academy has also made it possible for me to further my studies where I am currently a second year engineering student at the University of Stellenbosch just outside Cape Town. I’m hoping that the combination of a motorsport background and technical thinking will put me in a good position to make a career in racing or more specifically Formula 1.”
Without the dedication and support of our drivers’ parents, it would not have been possible for a successful programme. Our amazing group of parents have proved their support of SAKRA time and time again for which we are sincerely grateful.
Exciting times lie ahead of us as we look forward to the new intake of 60cc junior competitors and also to see what our senior driver can achieve in the Senior Max European Championship.
A vibrant and much visited Karting Pavilion took the “Best National Stand in Show” award at this year’s Autosport International. Many firms and associations took the chance of the budget price stands from the JKH organisation, but the displays were anything but budget.
The Karting Pavilion has been an excellent platform for karting and enabled us to explain the various options for from age six upwards. We also had a display of the new budget TKM Clubman class kart and with the massive foot fall at the show have undoubtedly brought more people into karting.
The BKIA were there, busy recruiting new members along with their insurance partner Romero, represented by Martin Mansley who was giving away gifts of vacuum mugs. The insurance package is available to competitors and teams, and will cover public liability at the tracks. This is a necessity for registered teams at the Super One Series this year and many clubs too now.
Competition Car Insurance had their own stand in the pavilion to offer what it says on the tin basically. They have service vehicle policies (read karting vans) and off-road vehicle policies (including for karts).
The ABkC and ARKS had a joint stand, offering the “Start Kart Racing” 2013 updated brochures and a free DVD. They were also continuing to publicise the “Lets Go Karting” scheme, something that has almost dropped off the radar at the MSA Go Motorsport stand which was concentrating on finding new officials and volunteer marshals.
KKC Kart Components are a great supporter of the Pavilion and as well as the full range of karting bits and pieces they were offering a budget Honda Cadet for £1995 plus VAT, using the JKH Cobalt frame.
Dartford Karting brought just a small sample of their massive stock list to the show, not to sell but to display their innovations. Recently they have been marketing more and more for the burgeoning historic market, including three sizes of split rims needed for authenticity. Martin Collard says the biggest market for these is Australia. For the modern kart they had a new line in magnesium hubs which are lighter and cheaper than the leading brands. They also sell the Kart Components SE magnesium low volume articles. One item that is going to boom with the younger and smaller drivers is their new pedal re-locator that comes with a platform to lift up the heel, and at £70 a pair obviates the need for separate purchase of heel cups or different pedals.
John Mills Engineering were eagerly publicising the new Gazelle UK engine for Cadets and were doing a special offer for January of a complete outfit at only £1999 plus VAT. They had the newly homologated Tillotson carburettors, fully CNC machined, but not eligible in the Super One. Also the 2013 homologations of the IAME Reedster engines for KFJ and KF with a different reed block and water pump as well as the new type integrated ignition ECU system rather than the separate box. James Mills expressed a lot of satisfaction regarding the IAME Cadet engine sales and like Zip are helping the clubs to promote their separate series with vouchers, trophies and prizes. Mills was also pushing his idea to have as many former kart world champions going back to 1964 and their karts, or replicas, to be present at the CIK World Championship coming up at PF International this year. He hopes some demonstration runs could be arranged.
CRG UK exhibited the latest KT1B model developed by Global Karting especially for the UK market and the Rotax Mojo tyres. There’s a new frame configuration with a mix of types of 30mm steel tubing and it’s a kilo lighter than the old model.
Shark, owned by Mike and Steve McMahon, were extolling the virtues of their 2013 Shark Attack Cadet, for Honda or IAME/Comer. They concentrate on club racing and have taken five 2012 titles.
RS Racing, based at Hook with their local track being Forest Edge, is now the importer for Wildkart. They plan to take in the BNL series this year and are working hard to further develop the kart.
Andy Cox Racing, the Formula KGP UK promoter and Birel importer had just announced the extension of their association with Ginetta Cars, which has been widened to include Easykart. Andy Cox was primarily promoting KGP to attract drivers into the Super One Series and at the selected clubs which will take the class. Cox has drawn up a calendar for the KGP drivers which intersperses club meetings with Super One. Starting this year they are running an unofficial Constructors Cup so each team or importer can promote their own brand of kart in the KGP class. Two drivers from the winning constructor will be offered complimentary entries to the world finals.
JAG Engineering had their valuable expertise in all things Rotax available in the persons of John Gravett and George Robinson. John Gravett revealed he would be applying to the MSA under the new class homologation rules to run Micro Max from 2014.
A constant stream of notables were interviewed on the Karting Stage, presented by Formula Kart Stars and used for their own prize giving in between the two Super One timings on Saturday afternoon. The displays in the area were based around the links between Ayrton Senna and Jenson Button from karts to F1 with Jeff Gray’s 1979 Senna replica DAP and one of Button’s karts which is owned by Chris Weller, gifted by John Button after a successful year that Button had with the HiTech F3 team. Weller himself as a very young man first raced karts in 1963 at an RAF station.
On the British Historic Kart Club stand just opposite, they were showing a 1967 Vacquard with Saetta V18TA motor belonging to Tony Brinkworth and for the first time Ian Pittaway’s 1964 Buckler Ultralite Mk2 with a Bultaco K200 4 speed engine. Slightly more modern was Paul Wilkes’ 1972 Sprint Kalmar with Komet K88. Going back again in time was the beautiful 1963 Quickkart Caravelle with Saetta V12 owned by David Gibson and restored by Tony Brinkworth. This item moved Peter Brinkworth to say: “I love this kart, its my favourite, and is the only fan cooled rotary engine that runs.”
Andy Mellor, the Technical Advisor at the FIA Safety Institute and Vice President of the FIA Safety Commission was giving this year’s Watkins Lecture sponsored by the Motorsports Safety Fund, primarily aimed at volunteer officials and marshals. On the karting front he talked about his ideas for a steering wheel that rotates and moves to reduces loads into the body, trying to prevent rib fractures in collisions. They have a specification for high backed seats which he said was particularly effective for young drivers of say 30kg weight in a 100kg kart. He revealed there is a new bodywork specification for a system with a tough outer shell and/or a foam type thicker system which will be published this year. They introduced the very valuable CMR/CMS helmet specification for youths but admitted that on the HANS type brace systems marketed for kart racing they are struggling to get answers as to whether they actually do aid safety and are working on a new test to help their decision. Superkarts at the Autosport show
By Gary James
Continuing the tradition, the British Superkart Association were once again exhibiting in the karting area.
The stand, built by John Dickinson of Euroconcept, had two championship winning Superkarts on display and Gavin Bennett’s Division 1 Anderson Maverick housing the twin-cylinder DEA engine that finished 2nd in the BSA Division 1 championship. Paul Platt proudly displayed his PVP Honda with the number 1 plate he retained in 2012 and Dan Edwards was showing the F1 TM that took him to the 125cc Open title and the Grand Prix win at Snetterton last July.
Both Paul and Dan were on hand during the public days of the exhibition to answer questions on equipment, rules and this year’s calendar from potential new drivers to the Superkart fraternity and also an admiring public. As always there was disbelief at the speeds capable from the Superkarts and a mutual respect of what can be achieved. Interest was very good, with many people looking to take advantage of the Superkart experience run by Terry Bateman as Darley Moor. Hopefully that will convert into more drivers wanting to come into Superkart racing on a regular basis.
There were also opportunities to spread the word about Superkarts on the Karting stage when Henry Beaudette of FKS conducted various interviews. On Thursday Rob Willshire, Chairman of the BSA, advised how buoyant the sport has become with numbers of drivers competing having increased in 2012. He sat alongside Barry Welch from Digitech TV who has been responsible for some excellent coverage of Superkarts on Motors TV during 2012. He is positive that a similar package can be put together this year to bring more Superkart racing into people’s front rooms. “The action that we have captured at Oulton Park, Croft and Donington Park has been amazing. There is so much action during a Superkart race with 40 on the grid and lots of overtaking that it makes excellent TV coverage.”
Ben Davis was on the stage on Saturday alongside Paul Platt. Ben explained how he made the jump from Junior TKM straight into a 250 National Superkart and would recommend anyone to try it as the adrenalin rush is like nothing else. Paul did another stint on the stage on Sunday alongside Dan Edwards. Both had spent the previous evening in the company of Jason Plato and Tiff Needell who thought that Superkart drivers were mad.
Platt advised that he would be going all out to defend his number 1 plate in the MSA British Superkart Championship. “I don’t know of any driver that has won three titles in a row. I would also like to win the Grand Prix as that is one of the titles I missed out on in 2012. It’s going to be tough with Louis Wall, Toby and Ben Davis, Sam Moss, Dan Clark and James O’Reilly all out to make sure I don’t achieve my goal”.
The KF1 World Championship has been declining in entries for several years, both due to the expense of a successful campaign and the amount of other options for drivers aged 16 plus.
This year it was decided to do something similar to the successful U18 World Championship – drivers still choose which engine manufacturer they use but after that they are issued with a couple of engines which stay in Parc Ferme and can be swapped between other drivers on that engine at any time.
Even if the factories were unenthusiastic about this, it might have attracted substantial amounts of privateers had it not been a five-round championship with two rounds in Asia.
A much simpler way of controlling the engines would be to give each driver two randomly selected, sealed engines at the start of the weekend.
Dino Chiesa came out against the Championship in early Spring, intending to only race in WSK and had signed Gary Catt to replace Nyck De Vries. Chiesa felt that the engine rules were only suitable for a hobby karting series. WSK didn’t get enough take up so ran KF2 only. Mark Litchfield, Karol Basz and others switched to KF2 but Catt switched to driver coaching, for the first round at least.
Tony/Kosmic, Lotus and CRG are known to have entered, possibly among others, giving a total of 16. CIK-FIA championships are supposed to have a minimum of 20 entries to run, but they had been given special dispensation to run with 16.
The CIK-FIA press release announcing the cancellation of KF1 at Varennes, PF International and Sarno said that several teams had entered but then refused to race if there was less than 25. A CRG employee told us that they were one of them.
For the Asian rounds local wild cards were allowed, which ensured full grids for those rounds, but the same was not true of the European rounds.
During 2011, KF1 ran to KF2 engine regulations with prototype chassis allowed – this was following the 2010 World Championship which was for KF2 after a boycott of the Super KF European Championship.
The 2010 World Championship was highly successful with over 100 entries and the CIK-FIA decided that this was due to the KF2 engine format. However, it’s more likely that drivers were enthusiastic about it because it was a relatively cheap one-off event.
In mid-April, a rumour surfaced that the Championship would be run without the lottery, at the Asian rounds only, and with the cooperation of the manufacturers there would be at last 25 drivers. An announcement came on Monday 16th April and it was indeed true that the European rounds were cancelled, along with the engine lottery, and the new closing date was 1st May.
Varennes had spent a lot of money doing the necessary upgrades to the track. Cancelling the World Championship portion of the Varennes event probably tipped the event over into unprofitability, as there were KF3s entered for the first round of their European Championship. PF International has had a £2m extension, bringing it to over the 1200m minimum length to hold a full international event but will be in a better situation financially as will also be running the final round of the KF2 European Championship.
To come up with the best solution for drivers and teams there’s many other formats that could have been tried, with far less disruption. For example, there could have been a two-round European Championship and a two-round Asia-Pacific Championship with the top drivers from each qualifying for the World Championship. Or as in 2010, they could have declared the final, Sarno, round to be the World Championship.
But a decision had to be made about a month before the start of the season when people had made decisions where to race long ago so getting more drivers into the European rounds wasn’t realistic.
The President of the CIK-FIA, Shaikh Abdulla, said: “At its next meeting, the CIK Commission will study in detail the elements and responsibilities which have led to this very prejudicial situation for Karting, and a report will be sent to the FIA World Motor Sport Council.”
The Vice-President of the CIK-FIA, Kees van de Grint, added: “This World Championship has been the subject of many consultations over the last months and the CIK-FIA has designed it in accordance with the expectations of most Manufacturers, who were convinced that it was the way to go. In December 2011, four engine Manufacturers stated that they fully intended to enter, and so did several Teams depending directly or not on the Manufacturers. However, when it came to collecting the written entry applications, many promises flew away. It is obviously highly regrettable and we shall have to draw the conclusions thereof and probably take radical decisions to ensure the durability of the oldest FIA World Championship after Formula One. There is still good hope of concentrating the World KF1 Championship on Asia this year, subject to the agreement of the CIK Commission and of the World Council.”
As we went to press the entry list hasn’t been published but we can assume there are a respectable amount of Asian drivers racing, and CRG have told us that the are taking several drivers including Davide Fore, who hasn’t competed in KF1 for several years.
This month I have only had one meeting but it is the most important one of our season. It was the World Cup in KZ1 and was in Genk.
I had been testing a couple of weeks before the race and during the tests I wasn’t really happy with my speed as I missed a couple tenths to the fastest drivers. During the meeting it was a similar story really and I struggled a bit in the tests but then in Qualifying I was able to do a good job and qualified 6th overall which surprised me actually. Dreezen was 3rd and my other team mate Marco Ardigo 9th. After a 9th, a 4th and a 7th in my three heats I would be classified 10th to start the Prefinal.
The Prefinal was on Sunday and in the morning it was raining, usually I’m not a massive fan of wet raing but I knew I didn’t have the speed in the dry so was hoping the rain might help me get a better result.
At the beginning of the Prefinal I was fast and was in 5th place, but then I got hit by another driver and spun. I ended up finishing in 21st so the result made it impossible for me to win from there. It dried up for the main Final and I had some problems with the engine before it finally broke halfway through the Final.
So it wasn’t a great weekend for me, now I’m not sure what races I have left myself this season but my Cadet driver still has a few remaining in Italy so I will be helping him during those races.
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