Like many other sports, karting is no different when it comes to pushing the boundaries between being on the limit and actually bending the rules.
At BRP-Rotax, manufacturer of the Rotax Max kart racing engine, and the organizer of the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, they are aware of this and have taken the necessary steps to reduce this to an absolute minimum. Totally eliminating this is a constant battle, but one that BRP-Rotax is prepared to fight to achieve equal opportunities for all competitors.
Tyres are one of those areas that fall under the label of ‘manipulation’. There are a number of various products on the market that claim to offer an effective means of a performance advantage as well as being undetectable. This is inaccurate and using these products is outside the regulations and the Rotax philosophy of what equal racing and fair play is all about.
Treating/coating tyres with any of these particular products, changes the performance characteristics of the tyres, enabling a small window of opportunity to produce an initial quicker lap time. When tyre treatment is used, the performance of the tyres in the initial 1-3 laps has proven to show a speed advantage. This is enough to produce a quicker lap time, but after those initial laps, the tyres return to their originally manufactured performance state and are the same speed as non-treated tyres.
To avoid or detect the usage of illegal treatment of tyres, BRP-Rotax have put in place the MiniRAE lite tyre sniffing tool. This tyre sniffer is an excellent tool that can and will detect any tyre that has been treated/coated with the use of a foreign substance. Even the common practice of wiping clean your kart/plastics with WD-40, contact cleaner, brake cleaner etc, will be detected and could have the impression that the tyres have been manipulated. The chemicals used to treat tyres are volatile hydrocarbons. The MiniRAE lite tyre sniffer can detect the presence of these volatile compounds. A tyre that emits a reading as low as 3ppm (parts per million) is determined to be a manipulated tyre. Something to think about next time you clean your kart.
Prior to any race, on the pre-grid and especially for race meetings not using parc-fermé, the tyre sniffing tool can be easily used on the entire grid of drivers before they take to the track, indicating any additives, coatings or treatments on the tyres. This tool is accurate!!!
The MiniRAE lite measures the presence of ‘volatile organic compounds’ (VOC) in the air. By measuring close to the surface (inside or outside) of the tyres. This tool measures the amount of VOCs being emitted from the surface. Untreated tyres, both off the shelf and after use have a reading, but this is significantly below that of treated tyres.
Then go for fair races – driving ability is all that counts!