The fact that the international crises within the karting world didn’t depend only on the economic situation is something that we’ve been saying for a long time. At last, the CIK too has realised that there is no point in being sorry for yourself and continue along the same routes, which are inadequate, it’s time for action. And action it is, a decisive and interesting reaction: set up a new world karting championship!
A championship that will support those already existing, but for once it is not a pointless copy, on the contrary. Because if existing championships, like the KF1 World Championship, are “reserved” for official drivers and factory teams also as advanced technological experimenting test bench and top level racing, they’ve decided to bring about a system that will re-evaluate the driver’s role, especially those drivers who find (perhaps it’s better to say “used to find”) it a phase of learning more in order to continue their career into car racing. Let’s see how it will be developed.
In the meanwhile, the “new Championship” is open to drivers who are under the age of 18; therefore “senators” are excluded. Furthermore, it will be raced in three rounds, all scheduled for the summer months, that is when school is over. The technical regulations will be put down so as to underline driving skill and reduce costs: this way, they’ll head for a single supplier both for engines and tyres. As for chassis, the manufacturing variables will be less. To reduce costs it will be within a paddock, no more “mega-structures”, each competitor will be given an area, the same size for each, just like what happens for some finals of single make classes, where each one is under a standard sized gazebo. Level wise, a class will be set up for the younger drivers, a school where they can improve their driving skill and where they can become aware of various problems that could arise in motor sport racing. All this has already been approved by the FIA and is to start in 2010.
Whatsmore, they are programming, to back this new idea of a world championship with a new class based on more or less, the same idea of a lower class, assort of “Formula 2”for karting for younger drivers and with less experience. In this case they will be using single-make karts, chassis included. We think this is a good turnover for the entire karting field, and jot just for the “top level". In fact, we think that this formula can be very good for bringing out future champions, future Schumacher, Hamilton and Alonzo, who are now suffocated by older official drivers.
Furthermore, it at last introduces the idea that a pointless, expensive form of karting doesn’t take you very far; on the contrary it brings to a drop of image and dignity.
To conclude, we think (and hope) that this philosophy will spread on a national scale, and a new class, cheaper, but just as valid will start that will increase the number karters and as a consequence they will outdo (or at least reduce) the crisis.
Below, we include the full content of the press release issued by the CIK, with the interview to the CIK-FIA President Luigi Macaluso.
FIA Launches New Karting World Championship
On 24 June 2009, the FIA World Motor Sport Council gave the green light to the CIK-FIA, Karting’s governing body, to develop a new World Championship for Karting, aimed at young drivers under 18 years old. The new series will complement the current CIK-FIA Karting World Championship, which is open to all age groups.
Set to launch in 2010, the new Championship will involve three events scheduled to take place in the summer months when under-18s will be available to compete. It will also be backed up by the creation of a Karting Academy for drivers aged 13 to 15 years old.
Here, CIK-FIA President Luigi Macaluso talks about the plans for the new Championship and how it is set to revitalise top level Karting.
Why create a new World Championship?
“Karting is the foundation of Motor Sport. Most racing drivers begin in Karting competition and it represents the natural first step in career progression. However, in recent years top-level Karting has become more specialised, with professional drivers and escalating costs. The price of a top-level season in Karting is comparable to that of a season in a bottom grade single-seater. The level of professionalism and involvement of certain teams has become such that some drivers no longer stand a chance of being competitive or are simply unable to finance their participation.
Whilst the increased professionalism is good for the sport, it also puts up barriers to entry for drivers looking to progress through the ranks.
In the CIK-FIA World Championship, the average age of drivers is constantly increasing. It was 22 years old in 2008, and the last five winners have averaged 26 years of age. The current driving standards and technically advanced karts are indeed excellent but this trend leads Karting away from its status as the learning ground for Motor Sport.
With the high costs involved, the number of participants is also dwindling: there were 160 entries in the 2000 World Championship but only 49 in the 2008 edition.
The new Championship will offer a series of affordable, high-level events open to all drivers under the age of 18 with the required skills and experience.”
Will this bring about an overhaul of the CIK-FIA Karting Championships?
“Not at all. There is no intention of sweeping away the existing Championships to replace them by a new formula. High-level international Karting is not weakening: the World Championship is still a top level event, and the CIK-FIA continental Championships and World Cups remain successful.
The current top category of Karting, Super KF, will remain a showcase of technological excellence for the manufacturers, but we must also ensure that modern Karting remains true to its roots, hence the necessity to guarantee that it is affordable for the largest number of people, especially the youngest ones. The CIK and the FIA want to add to the current Championships another programme of races which will bring new ideas and will be status-enhancing, but at a low cost.”
What new ideas?
“The idea is to offer more than just races or track tests and to integrate educational training into the programme of events. This will include seminars aimed at making drivers aware of initiatives from the FIA stressing values like sportsmanship, fair play, equality, social responsibility and safety, and to raise their awareness of ecological issues.”
“The CIK-FIA has already taken steps in the direction of cost limitation but so far it has not been sufficient, not to mention the economic situation of families and teams which has deteriorated because of the current crisis climate. One must have the courage to take important decisions, and although this concept explores new avenues which will seem revolutionary to the Karting community, they are simply aimed at giving an image of Karting that is more in keeping with its roots by reviving the young talent-scouting capacity of competition and by contributing to educate younger drivers.
It is understandable that the manufacturers need a technological showcase but Karting is primarily a sport for drivers, and the world expects high-level Karting to reveal tomorrow’s talents, the next Hamilton, Räikkönen, Kubica, Button, Alonso, etc. It should also be an expression platform which enables anyone to practise Motor Sport at little cost.”
What concrete cost reduction measures can be taken?
“As regards engines, the natural wish to be always more competitive leads to an ever more costly situation. The most appropriate solution to control costs is therefore the single-engine designated further to a tender procedure for a minimum period of three years. This covers the complete engine and its related parts, including the carburettor, exhaust, ignition and cooling system.
The allocation of engines can be carried out by drawing lots. The designation of a single tyre make has long been common practice at the CIK-FIA, with very positive results. It guarantees equality of opportunity and huge cost reduction because the suppliers go so far as to offer racing tyres free of charge to all drivers.”
What about chassis?
“Without necessarily having recourse to the designation of a single-supplier, some efforts must also be dedicated to chassis. For instance, the catalogue of component variants needs to be limited. For some current chassis there are between three and eight options in the proposed range of axles, hubs or rims and this both increases costs and complicates the management of equipment, necessitating repeated tests, expert mechanics and the use of sophisticated data logging systems. We aim to introduce simpler, basic rules allowing for a less costly practice of the sport.”
The project is not limited to restrictions on the kart itself, is it?
“No. Some of the structures brought to the paddocks are quite simply disproportionate. In this new World Championship for young drivers the working space will be standardised. Even in Rallying similar measures have been implemented within the framework of the Junior WRC. In order to be more balanced as well as more user-friendly, the ‘technical’ space of the paddock will be the same for everyone.”
Why create at the same time a CIK-FIA Academy?
“For several reasons. Firstly, it will concern even younger drivers than the new World Championship participants, i.e. 13 or 14 year-old drivers. Secondly, we see it as a preliminary stage before the World Championship and want it to be as inexpensive as possible. This is why the complete single-kart option placed at the driver’s disposal according to the ‘Arrive & drive’ principle will be applied. The Academy is aimed at offering ideal training for younger drivers on the international scene and at opening doors to the World Championship for the most deserving drivers.”
How will this fit with current Championships?
“It must be understood that this is a new concept which is not set to replace the existing system but to complement it. There will still be Championships where manufacturers and semi-professional teams can demonstrate their know-how. But we have to admit that, year after year, the potential breeding ground of drivers is getting smaller. The importance of Karting as a training school has to be stressed – a school that enhances the values of both sport and life – and we must therefore set up a World Championship which will again be accessible to the largest number of people and appealing to new young drivers.”
When is it planned to launch the concept?
“We are aiming for summer 2010. In the meantime, it will be necessary to finalise the sporting and technical regulations, to issue the necessary invitations to tender, to elaborate a strategy of communication, to involve the ASNs in the process and to select three circuits with appropriate infrastructures for the organisation of the events.”