The Daniel Ricciardo Series: Easykart in UK

Columns: Vroom Academy
We spoke to Andy Cox, UK importer for Birel Art who launched, in collaboration with F1 McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, a promotional series in the UK based on the same Easykart machine, with a Ricciardo livery.

What about the genesis of this series: how did it come up? Who thought it first?
I have worked with Birel now for 27 years as the importer for the UK. In 2006 Mr. Oscar Sala was keen for me to try to bring the Easykart project to the UK which a year later I did. I started to run the Easykart Series as well as running our main Birel brand in our successful racing team ACR. As the years went by we took UK drivers to the Easykart finals and won on a few occasions which were very satisfying. I then started to focus more on the Series rather than our racing team and in 2015 we rebranded it the BirelART UK Series when Birel became BirelART. In 2018 I realized we needed to try to connect more and raise awareness with young kids and to try to get more drivers started in karting, what with the costs of the open karting classes soaring as well as it being complex for new people starting off in our sport. I had met Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 in Monza and through his friend Michael Patrizi, I came up with and pitched to Daniel the idea of the Daniel Ricciardo Series. The idea was to style the series around the Ricciardo kart brand and with the support of Daniel try to get more kids into karting. Daniel really likes that the series is fair and cost-effective with the ethos and emphasis on each driver's ability as all the karts are the same. DRS is not a series where you need a big racing budget just to try to be competitive, if a driver wins in DRS it's because they have talent and not special equipment! The Daniel Ricciardo Series (DRS) is Daniel’s way of giving something back to the sport he loves and started out in. The DRS project is carefully managed for families and young drivers, for kids to have a real connection and association with one of the best F1 drivers in Daniel is so cool for them and it’s easier for people outside of karting to better understand our sport, thanks to Daniel’s name and backing of the series – it’s a personal link from karting to F1.
Describe the Race weekend scenario and what's the target of the Series: just amateurs or also a 'stepping stone' for young talents (speaking about the mini) to major karting leagues?
The aim of the Daniel Ricciardo Series is to provide a place for new karting drivers to learn to race as well as educate them on the correct clean racing etiquette. DRS also offers support and technical advice for parents to learn about the mechanics of running their own kart which in many cases is the first racing kart they have bought after they have come from indoor or arrive-and-drive rental karts. (We also run the Daniel Ricciardo Young Driver Academy where new drivers can come and try out a DRS Ricciardo kart without having to purchase one first. Our coaching sessions are designed to help them with braking and learning the racing line through 4 sessions on a Saturday morning.) After they have tried it out it's very common for them to progress and purchase their DRS Ricciardo kart and join the series at any point.
What’s the typical profile of a DRS series driver so far - and also what do you have in mind (rookies; newcomers; former 35/40 yrs old drivers who want to come back racing...)
Our DRS62 cadet class is in two divisions for 2022 but they will race together. DRS62 Academy is for new rookie drivers and DRS62 Super is for drivers with more than a season's racing experience and it has a slightly de-restricted and faster engine compared to the DRS62 Academy. The idea is for the DRS62 Academy drivers to progress with incentives in their own Championship and trophies before going on up into the DRS62 Super. Confidence and some early success make a big difference to new rookie drivers so we are looking forward to seeing them progress. DRS100 Junior class is very competitive, and we often see drivers from our DRS62 Cadet make the transition into DRS100 and race on with us until they are 15 or 16 years old. In the DRS125 senior class, we have some drivers up from DRS100 and drivers racing that are aged 30 to 55 who really enjoy their kart racing with DRS!
The only difference between Easykart and the DRS is the IAME engines you use instead of BMB.
We continue to use the IAME EK engines as we have done since 2006, thanks to BirelART and Mr. Ronni Sala we continue to have an excellent relationship with IAME and technical support from Mr. Andrea Bossaglia. When Birel started with BMB we just had too many drivers already using the IAME EK engine in the UK and it was very difficult to see how we could integrate BMB at that time into our market. So, at that point, it was decided with Mr. Oscar and Ronni Sala, and myself that the UK would stay using the IAME engine. We will continue to use the IAME EK engine in the Daniel Ricciardo Series. It’s very easy for drivers to use and very consistent on performance. When we take UK drivers to the Easykart World Finals we always use BMB engines as Easykart is defined with BMB and we are racing guests in Italy. The BMB engines are similar in setup and carburation to IAME and easy to use; in fact, the last World Finals we raced in we won with a brand new BMB engine straight out of the box which is a great advert for the Easykart project.
Is Daniel Ricciardo involved in any possible way in this? Did he show up on track yet? What about 2021 and the current season?
Daniel is fantastic. He is such a lovely guy and always supports the DRS kids with signed pictures, Ricciardo mini helmets to go with the end-of-season trophies. He came to one of the rounds in 2019 and stayed for 3 hours watching and speaking to all the kids and parents. Of course, he signed anything from t-shirts to side pods to crash helmets for drivers which was a really nice touch and very much appreciated by the drivers. Sadly, with COVID-19 and restrictions, he was unable to attend our 2020 season which was seriously impacted with just 3 rounds completed. In 2021 we ran 6 rounds but with COVID restrictions still making an impact, Daniel was unable to attend. This season though Daniel is hoping to come to one of the DRS rounds to lend and show his continued support which will be fantastic!
Do you think that DRS is the kind of"father-and-son Team" racing formula? Why should a beginner pick DRS among the many single-branded trophies?
Without doubt, DRS is a pure racing series aimed at families starting out in kart racing. We have a diverse and friendly paddock and it's nice to see people helping each other and having a great social time in the Daniel Ricciardo Series. We don’t permit racing teams, so each driver is racing for themselves and with the DRS Ricciardo kart, we manage the engines so that they are equal as possible on performance. On the track each DRS category is very competitive, and the racing is always exciting!
Is there a chance to see one of the UK DRS drivers at the Easykart International Grand Finals in Franciacorta in October?
Yes, in 2022 we very much hope to be bringing some DRS drivers to the Grand Finals and we are quietly confident that we could add another World Final win for a UK DRS driver! It’s always a great welcome from the Italian drivers and all the other drivers from around the world that race in Easykart and COVID permitting we will be there!

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Created by: fmarangon - 31/05/22

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