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Formula TKM: November, 2006 Formula TKM News

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Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Well here it is…the official straight from the horse’s mouth version of what will happen with the Formula TKM regulations for 2007. We’ve touched on a lot of things over the past few months but this is the definitive version.

Firstly on homologation then as mentioned a couple of months ago that is now proceeding on the basis of karts and components being permitted from any country subject to having a UK agent who must be a British Kart Industry Association member.

I can tell you that at least two Italian manufacturers – CRG and Tecno – are developing karts for the class, while of course the usual group of UK companies are in there as well.

By relaxing this rule it allows a much easier time for the UK manufacturers who can now buy in overseas components at advantageous price and it also makes much easier (and cheaper) the whole homologation process.

But it should be stressed that the regulations themselves (barring one or two exceptions) have not been changed so that whatever comes from Italy will still have to meet exactly the same rules. Don’t expect to find new karts that go 2 secs a lap quicker!!

The main exception is on brakes where it is confirmed that new and old karts from next year will be able to use any brake system, providing it conforms to the existing Formula TKM brake rules. But don’t just go out and buy another one unless you really need to because in terms of performance it will make little difference.

However what it does do is allow much greater ease for both the kart makers and the customers. Kart manufacturers have previously had to homologate every brake change which is again costly and time consuming – and often happens just because the maker has changed a minor part. And customers with older karts have had a problem getting the right bits if something goes wrong.

The other exception is on seat stays where all the rule about the size of the stay and its mountings has been dropped. It makes life easier for everyone – and to be honest few of the TKM class karts benefit from them anyway.

As far as the class structure is concerned, while there has been great debate on what should happen and many theories discussed, the reality is that it will stay exactly where it is for 2007 – but with the proviso that there may well then be significant changes for 2008 and beyond.

Part of the complication here is that any significant change to a Junior class should then technically become a mandatory clutch class and it was felt that currently this might not be the best route. However watch this space for the future.

However Tal-Ko, the class owners, are not sitting still. There will definitely be a new noise box for next year which will be of a totally different design which will give at least the same power and will be very durable and suitable for the rigours of racing. It will be easier to fit and far sexier looking. This box will be an optional fitment so you do not have to fit it unless you want to.

And on the exhaust a lot of work is going into developing a new exhaust for 2007 which will also be an optional fit. The trick here is to reduce noise while at the same time at least matching if not improving performance. I’ll bring you more on that when I can.

Then there is the cost of everything and a real attack on bringing prices down. Tal-Ko are currently making a total review of all prices and the way in which some items are sold – for example engines.

The expectation is that new price packages will be put in place which make it easier for you the karter to see exactly what you are getting for your money, bring down the costs, and expand the options.

The same process is happening on the karts themselves which will have a higher looking price but only because it will now include many items which were previously add-ons.

Tyres are amongst the items being looked at and the promise is that overall your karting should cost less rather than more in 2007. Watch out for announcements on the new pricing before the end of the year.

One proposed rule which has been rejected was a neat little turn of phrase which would have allowed scrutineers to turn a blind eye to obvious accident damage that had happened during a race which would otherwise attract a penalty – things like a fin rubber missing or noise box trumpet missing.

To my mind this is a great shame because all too often perfectly innocent drivers end up with a disqualification through no fault of their own. What we should be trying to do is catch the cheats not penalise the innocent ones.

Oddly enough the same situation does not seem to apply with car racing where scrutineers are allowed to use more common sense on such things. So this is an issue that will not go away and I am sure that Tal-Ko will want to press this further. It is called keeping the customers happy – and that is what everyone in karting should be trying to do!

On the TKM 4-stroke front then there are no changes at all – except that the list of spark plugs approved will be updated because some of the current plugs are being revised in spec or availability. More news on that once the revisions are complete.

Switching subject, just to say that some great TV coverage of the Festival has just been on the screens on SkySport. If you missed it then a DVD compilation will be available soon. We’ll bring you the details just as soon as they are finalised.

Oh and on the subject of the Festival then next year’s date has now been confirmed as August???. Put it in your planner now.

And finally watch out before the end of the year for changes to the Tal-Ko website which will enable you to buy components much easier direct over the internet.

 

 

Formula TKM News

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Jamie Smets_4121

Formula TKM News
Well here it is…the official straight from the horse’s mouth version of what will happen with the Formula TKM regulations for 2007. We’ve touched on a lot of things over the past few months but this is the definitive version.

Firstly on homologation then as mentioned a couple of months ago that is now proceeding on the basis of karts and components being permitted from any country subject to having a UK agent who must be a British Kart Industry Association member.

I can tell you that at least two Italian manufacturers – CRG and Tecno – are developing karts for the class, while of course the usual group of UK companies are in there as well.

By relaxing this rule it allows a much easier time for the UK manufacturers who can now buy in overseas components at advantageous price and it also makes much easier (and cheaper) the whole homologation process.

But it should be stressed that the regulations themselves (barring one or two exceptions) have not been changed so that whatever comes from Italy will still have to meet exactly the same rules. Don’t expect to find new karts that go 2 secs a lap quicker!!

The main exception is on brakes where it is confirmed that new and old karts from next year will be able to use any brake system, providing it conforms to the existing Formula TKM brake rules. But don’t just go out and buy another one unless you really need to because in terms of performance it will make little difference.

However what it does do is allow much greater ease for both the kart makers and the customers. Kart manufacturers have previously had to homologate every brake change which is again costly and time consuming – and often happens just because the maker has changed a minor part. And customers with older karts have had a problem getting the right bits if something goes wrong.

The other exception is on seat stays where all the rule about the size of the stay and its mountings has been dropped. It makes life easier for everyone – and to be honest few of the TKM class karts benefit from them anyway.

As far as the class structure is concerned, while there has been great debate on what should happen and many theories discussed, the reality is that it will stay exactly where it is for 2007 – but with the proviso that there may well then be significant changes for 2008 and beyond.

Part of the complication here is that any significant change to a Junior class should then technically become a mandatory clutch class and it was felt that currently this might not be the best route. However watch this space for the future.

However Tal-Ko, the class owners, are not sitting still. There will definitely be a new noise box for next year which will be of a totally different design which will give at least the same power and will be very durable and suitable for the rigours of racing. It will be easier to fit and far sexier looking. This box will be an optional fitment so you do not have to fit it unless you want to.

And on the exhaust a lot of work is going into developing a new exhaust for 2007 which will also be an optional fit. The trick here is to reduce noise while at the same time at least matching if not improving performance. I’ll bring you more on that when I can.

Then there is the cost of everything and a real attack on bringing prices down. Tal-Ko are currently making a total review of all prices and the way in which some items are sold – for example engines.

The expectation is that new price packages will be put in place which make it easier for you the karter to see exactly what you are getting for your money, bring down the costs, and expand the options.

The same process is happening on the karts themselves which will have a higher looking price but only because it will now include many items which were previously add-ons.

Tyres are amongst the items being looked at and the promise is that overall your karting should cost less rather than more in 2007. Watch out for announcements on the new pricing before the end of the year.

One proposed rule which has been rejected was a neat little turn of phrase which would have allowed scrutineers to turn a blind eye to obvious accident damage that had happened during a race which would otherwise attract a penalty – things like a fin rubber missing or noise box trumpet missing.

To my mind this is a great shame because all too often perfectly innocent drivers end up with a disqualification through no fault of their own. What we should be trying to do is catch the cheats not penalise the innocent ones.

Oddly enough the same situation does not seem to apply with car racing where scrutineers are allowed to use more common sense on such things. So this is an issue that will not go away and I am sure that Tal-Ko will want to press this further. It is called keeping the customers happy – and that is what everyone in karting should be trying to do!

On the TKM 4-stroke front then there are no changes at all – except that the list of spark plugs approved will be updated because some of the current plugs are being revised in spec or availability. More news on that once the revisions are complete.

Switching subject, just to say that some great TV coverage of the Festival has just been on the screens on SkySport. If you missed it then a DVD compilation will be available soon. We’ll bring you the details just as soon as they are finalised.

Oh and on the subject of the Festival then next year’s date has now been confirmed as August???. Put it in your planner now.

And finally watch out before the end of the year for changes to the Tal-Ko website which will enable you to buy components much easier direct over the internet.

Sidney Sprocket

 

Formula TKM: October, 2006 Formula TKM News

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Written By: Grahame Butterworth

 

Let’s start this month away from pure technical issues by having a quick glance back at the Festival and some of the racing issues that can be learned from there.

It was another superb event (despite the attempts of the weather) which saw a variety of track situations from wet through to ‘green’ and then well used with lots of rubber down. It also saw some very strong winds which can be significant too.

They were the kind of conditions where experience counts because you sometimes have to quickly dial in new settings to your kart to make the best of the weather.

Temperatures were lower than some of those scorchers we have had at the event so lap times were generally a fraction slower as a result – the effects of less grip and a strong headwind down the two longest straights outweighing the cold weather power gain.

And in such conditions you need to gain some grip which means the track setting a shade narrower and maybe an extra tooth on the gearing to fight into the headwind.

Tyre pressures are also critical and need to be adjusted to come to their best at the right time. So for cooler weather you maybe need an extra pound or two and of course for the timed qualifying session you need the tyres to be at their best after say four laps so it is vital to get that one right.

We saw a few people go out on hopelessly wrong tyres – for example wets on a dry track. It can sometimes pay to take a gamble but generally you are better going with what the majority are using. That way you make sure you are never likely to be too far off the pace of the majority.

And remember my old trick when conditions are changing. Set one side of the kart up with wets and the other with slicks. That way when you make your final decision you have only got two wheels to change. It works, trust me!

The veterans and heavies racing together were good fun – but also underlined a significant point. In the dry the vets were well away up front. But come the wet then the heavies were dominant. Extra weight really does work in the wet..

So given the changeable nature of the racing over the weekend it is perhaps not surprising to see no less than four titles go to drivers who have taken top glory at the Festival previously.

A special tribute to Ryan Cole who made it three in a row. Kieran Vernon and Marcus Allen made it two in succession and Michael Comber now with a title in 2 and 4 stroke. Well done to you all for combining obvious speed with that sixth sense that keeps you out of trouble and through to the chequered flag on a regular basis.

There was a very strong entry of TKM 4-strokes at the event which was good to see and as ever brought some superbly close racing. Jamie Smets from Belgium, where the TKM 4-stroke class is very strong, put on a fine display to take the senior title.

New for the 4-strokes at the Festival was the availability of a new endurance radiator kit which has been developed to help cope with the demands of endurance racing and especially ultra high temperature weather.

The standard radiator is fine normally, but when we have ambient temperatures nudging 40 degrees C then it can push the engine passed its optimum operating temperature. The new rads have been tested in just such conditions and make a big difference.

They are not so convenient because they mount on the other side of the kart to the engine, but at the same time will give a shade better weight spread. They were made legal in the 2006 regulations for the class and are available from Tal-Ko at £175 plus vat including all brackets etc.

Two items that did not appear at the Festival are the new 2-stroke airbox and exhaust which will become optional fitments from the beginning of next year. They are still undergoing final testing and tweaking ready to go on sale at the end of the year.

I am told the testing has shown benefits in terms of noise and durability which should hopefully keep everyone happy. More details and photos as soon as they are finalised.

On the homologation front I can tell you that with a few days to go before the initial cut-off date the response from manufacturers seems good with several top overseas names expected to go for TKM homologated karts. That is good news for the class because it broadens the appeal from traders and ultimately they are the people who help persuade drivers into one class or another.

But remember the way that the rules are written, the karts eligible will all be similar in spec to what we have now so you are not going to suddenly see outlandishly different karts from abroad making everything else redundant. Long term stability is always at the heart of the classes.

And what, you may ask is happening about the classes? Discussions are close to being finalised and I can tell you that from a senior Extreme point of view things will be as now aside from the airbox and exhaust optional tweaks.

On the Junior/Inter age front no final decisions have been made – so all the rumours you hear are nothing more than that – some of them I have to say rather wide of the mark.

Finally I thought it was rather fitting and a great tribute to the class that on the day when Jenson Button won his first Grand Prix who should be sitting in the TV commentary box but Anthony Davidson. Both of these two were champions in the Formula TKM Junior classes and both really brought home their outstanding abilities in those early years.

I look forward to the day when Formula TKM has its first graduate becoming World Champion.

 

 

 

Formula TKM: September, 2006 Formula TKM News

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Written By: Grahame Butterworth

 

Let’s start off this month by just following up on the exclusive news of last month concerning the new homologations for karts effective from next year. Sidney got it right!

Tal-Ko have now officially released the paperwork for the 2007 homologation period which is exactly in line with the predictions of Sprocket last month. That is open to all kart manufacturers but must have a UK agent company.

And the rules for the chassis remain tight as now with 30mm axle etc, but with a number of areas opened out to allow greater ease and reduced costs for everyone. For example the brake system will be free and can be changed by a manufacturer without need to amend the homologation.

The cost factor is worth looking at. Up until now there has been a fixed price ceiling which was for a bare kart without bodywork etc. Under the new homologation there is a higher maximum price of £1450 plus VAT – but that figure is now including full CIK bodywork and other minor items that used to be separate so in reality only a minor increase and now easier to understand.

If you are interested in homologating a chassis or just at seeing the requirements , you can do this by going to the Tal-Ko website www.tal-ko.com and looking for the download of the material.

On the technical front I gather that testing has shown the new optional noisebox to be a shade quieter than the current one and much more durable and easy to use. I predict first sight of this is likely to be at the Festival at Kimbolton. No more news on the exhaust at this stage.

As to the wider question of class make-up, that is still something hanging in the balance pending further discussions with the ABkC. Tal-Ko are very keen to get this moving but within karting there’s a lot of treacle to tread through to get to the top of the mountain!

Then there’s the question of rear bodywork. Plenty around at international level but also surrounded in problems such as bits flying off etc. For the short term it looks as though the UK is shunning the equipment though I am sure that longer term it will be allowed.

As far as the TKM classes and rear bodywork are concerned I think an open view is the best way of summing up the attitude. They will be allowed in due course – but only after all the initial grief has been sorted out and they can be obtained at sensible money with a good record of reliability. Can’t argue with that.

One small but quite significant technical problem that is going to addressed is that of the Walbro carb screws. There are four very small screws at top and bottom which if overtightned can pull out the threads. The problem is that while helicoils are allowed in the class you can’t actually get them in the odd size of those screws.

What that can mean is that a perfectly good carb becomes rendered no good because the threads have stripped. The cure for this effective from next year will be to allow use of the more common M3 & M4 bolts and helicoils. A simple very cheap way of making life easier for everyone. Full details in due course.

On that subject it is worth making the point that those screws should always be checked for tightness. They always need to be checked once carb has been run after a rebuild. So check them regularly because a slight air leak here can dramatically spoil performance. But don’t overtighten!!

Now as I type sitting in my shorts, the thought occurs that we should just touch upon a few matters that hot weather affects – apart from the need to drink beer!

Tyre pressures need careful attention. Make a careful note of how much they go up in pressure on the track. They will be relatively warm when ‘cold’ but on the other hand they will get even hotter on the track. Look at the pressures carefully and see if you need to make any amendments to your pressures.

Take the pressures at the moment they come off the track and see if they are right. You would normally expect an increase of around 3psi from cold to hot. If they are gaining more than this then try lowering the pressures 1 or 2 psi at a time until tyres performance and pressure increase comes good.

Then fuel. Hot petrol is not as efficient as cold. Keep your fuel as cold as you can – and yes ideally put it in a fridge before you use it! The colder it is the more dense it is and the bigger bang it will produce. If you want you can even wrap the fuel tank with silver foil to reflect off the sun. Please remember fuel is dangerous and must be handled with care!

The engine will run hotter so that may well mean you need to tweak the jetting slightly to give more fuel from the high jet – in other words a bit richer – just to ensure it is getting plenty of fuel and oil mix to produce the power and keep it cool. You may even have to change to a cooler running spark plug – as specified in the rules.

And don’t forget the driver. You need lots of water or sports type drink – not at freezing point, but ideally at just a coolish level to keep down your body temperature and at the same time prevent dehydration.

A tinted visor is also a great benefit when there is a lot of sun and glare – especially later in the afternoon when the sun starts to drop. And remember that a light coloured suit is always going to be cooler than a dark one because it reflects off the rays of the sun better.

And finally remember to keep your spare tyres out of the sun and heat. Tyres should be kept in a cool and dark place. Having them cooking in direct sunlight or great heat will only accelerate then going harder and losing their best performance.

So watch out for detail news and pictures coming soon on the new optional noisebox and exhaust. And news too on the outcome of discussions on the class make-up for 2007 and onwards.

 

 

 

 

Formula TKM: August, 2006 Formula TKM News

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Written By: Grahame Butterworth

Well after much deliberation and discussion within the class I can now bring you the low down on the regulations for the Formula TKM 2 & 4-stroke classes in 2007 and beyond.

What I am sure will be seen as good news for many in the classes is that actually although there are some fundamental changes, in reality little changes to cause anyone undue cause for concern.

Let’s just clear the 4-strokes out of the way by saying that there are no significant changes here at all. The classes continue to grow and will not be revised. Nice and simple that!

For 2-stroke things are more complicated but should come as good news.

Homologation of karts is going to continue with a new three year period coming into effect from January 1, 2007. And if you have an old kart the good news is that you can still use it with no problem. For TKM the valid homologation period is being extended to 12years – three years longer than usual – so a 94 homologation kart is still useable.

The significant change is that karts need no longer be UK made – but that does not, repeat NOT mean that international style karts will be allowed in. Quite the reverse.

The change to allow overseas karts has two effects. Firstly it means that a UK company can if they wish source a kart from abroad and maybe save some money in doing so. It also means they can buy components such as chassis and stub axles abroad, again often at lower prices.

With more and more components such as brakes, bodywork and brackets already coming from abroad and being fitted to existing TKM karts it makes logical sense to make this change to take in the chassis etc. Also of course the number of UK manufacturers has declined making it harder work for the class with so few manufacturers to support it.

Where an overseas manufacturer wants to make a kart for the class the only proviso is that they must have a UK based agent who is a member of the British Kart Industry Association.

As far as the actual class rules are concerned the changes are minor. Brake systems will become free which cuts out the sometimes expensive problem of having to homologate new systems when a manufacturer changes spec. However the spec of the brakes will be exactly as now -one callipers, two pads and maximum two pistons per pad. ABS etc banned.

This change will apply to all karts so you can change your system if required – though it seems unlikely any major advantage will be gained. But again it makes it much easier for those people who might have a faulty system for which spares are difficult or impossible to obtain.

Otherwise kart spec remains pretty much as now with 30mm hollow axles, no caster/camber adjustment and no torsion bars. But you will be allowed free seats stays (maximum of two per kart) and there is a general tidying up of rules.

It seems likely that the entire TKM rule book will be re-written in conjunction with the fiche, not to change anything but to make things a lot easier to understand without all the amendments that have taken place over the years.

Some things will be made easier to help both scrutineers and drivers avoid those silly technical infringements that cause needless pain. Things like size of cable ties, airbox intakes dropping off, etc.

Two areas where changes will be made concern the noisebox and exhaust. The noisebox looks set to be replaced by an entirely new unit which is more robust yet still retains a built-in filter – very important in maximising engine life.

I am told this noisebox should have a lower price than the existing unit and withstand the knocks of racing better. The problem in getting it has been to find one which is actually as effective at doing its job as the current one! Its fitment will be optional so no-one is being forced to buy it.

As far as the exhaust is concerned Tal-Ko are looking at a new system which will reduce noise yet also increase power. This will be a complete system which does away with horrible but very effective flex to give a much more effective package. Again this will at first only be an optional item but clearly one of those things that with time will become an automatic choice.

I think in both cases first sight of these will be at the Maxxis TKM Festival in August. Oh and on the subject of Maxxis, their tyres will remain as the class tyre in unchanged format.

It seems pretty certain that the Senior Extreme class will remain exactly as it is now in terms of structure. But where they may be a change is within the Junior/Intermediate age bracket.

All sorts of different ideas are being looked at here to help encourage youngsters into what should be the sensible choice in terms of stepping up from cadets or starting off as a novice as well as a class for the experienced Junior who wants a level playing field with good performance that does not cost the earth to compete in.

Discussions centre around change of structure, use of mandatory clutch, creation of a true stepping stone of performance, weight changes, etc. The idea is to increase appeal and scope rather than cause grief to anyone with the aim of boosting numbers.

At this stage final deliberations are not quite there but watch out for news on the latest coming very soon in what could be a very important revision of the classes that helped bring on so many talents like Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Gary Paffett.
Whatever the final outcome rest assured that Tal-Ko will be continuing to put its weight behind the classes and doing its level best to ensure they remain the natural choice for karters wanting the best racing and the best value racing for their money in the UK.

And finally just a reminder that you have but a few days left to get your entries in for the Maxxis Formula TKM Festival at Kimbolton over August 11-13 weekend. The best racing you’ll get anywhere in UK karting with a structure that allows everyone to have great racing whether novice or superstar.

You can get your entry packs from Daphne Freeman at 76 Guntons Close, Soham, Ely, Cambs CB7 5DN enclosing a large stamped addressed envelope. And remember that even if you are a novice then you can take part.

See you there!

Sidney Sprocket

Suggest photo caption reads something like…Exhaust flex and wrap could become a thing of the past.