OK-N and OKJ-N: Common Sense Wins

Columns: Close Up
The latest test held in Cremona for the newly formed OK-N and OKJ-N showed an excellent level of performance for the two categories destined to revitalize single-gear categories at the regional and national levels.

On September 27, 2002, the OK National was officially born, divided into the two OK-N and OK-N Junior categories. Hopes are high that they can truly relaunch the single-gear classes. The test was carried out with 4 karts and the purpose was to check the performance of the engines in the 2 configurations. 

In addition to a purely performance-related issue, it was indeed necessary to determine whether the 26 mm exhaust restriction alone could truly guarantee the right performance difference between the two categories. The 4 manufacturers who will homologate their engines (IAME, Modena, TM, and Vortex) found that in this configuration there is the right power difference between the two configurations, thus allowing the same engine to be used at the time of a category change. This also results in less economic effort on the part of the manufacturers, who are not forced to make 2 different engines or 2 different cylinders. What we are most satisfied with is that common sense choices have been made, the ones we had discussed with current italian president Raffaele Giammaria.

The carburetor shall be for both categories of the vacuum type with throttle valve and 2 adjustment screws, with a maximum purchase cost of 200 Euro excluding VAT. Thus, we shall not have to witness the sad spectacle of calibrations entrusted to tuners who, in fact, can also decide who to give that something more, or less, already before the race. Instead, in this way, it is the driver who adjusts the carburetion, and those who know how to do so will have an advantage over their opponents, as they should. 

The tires will be FIA-homologated Option compound. The fact that these will be chosen directly by the Federation in the interest of the drivers, and not imposed by the organizer based on their own financial gain (with the scandalous results we have witnessed in recent years), bodes well. 

What we find most difficult to accept is the minimum weight, currently set at 145 kg for Junior and 155 kg for Senior. The purpose of this choice is to ensure that even the heaviest drivers can be competitive. But the math doesn't add up! If in international competitions the minimum weight of OK is 140 kg and 145 kg in OKJ (and even here there would be something to say...), for X30 Junior we have a minimum weight of 145 kg and 158 kg for Senior. Now, according to a study we did in collaboration with the Federation, it turns out that in OKJ International the drivers all travel on average with 8.9 kg of ballast: why shouldn't it be the same in OKN Junior? Are there really 12-year-olds who weigh over 75 kg? In OKJ the minimum weight should drop to at least 140 kg, although we remain convinced that the right weight for this category should be 135. Same for the OKN: 155 kg is too much!

By setting a minimum kart weight at 70 kg, it means that at 155 kg, a driver weighing 85 kg could race. The problem is not one of "inclusivity," but of making those who do not reach this weight carry too much ballast, making the kart more dangerous in case of an accident (physics teaches us that at 100 km/h 10 kg grow exponentially...) and heavy for mechanics to handle. It must be said that, being vehicles that start on push, the lightness helps a lot. The paradox then comes when comparing the weight of OKNs with that of X30s: 145 and 155 kg even for the two IAME single-brand categories, which, let's remember, are equipped with accessories such as electric start, battery, and wiring. Does that mean you have to be more "inclusive" in OKN rather than in a one-make category like X30? Fortunately, these values are only temporary and hopefully, the Federation will make the necessary corrections in the process because at least 5 kilograms can be removed to the benefit of driver safety, ease of starting, and the health of mechanics, who are too often forgotten and forced to lift excessive weights in a lifetime of work.

Beyond the technical aspect, there is also the managerial one. The success of a category is closely tied to parameters such as cost, performance, technical checks, and visibility. The ball is obviously in the Federation's court, which will have to invest in these fledgling categories by making them attractive and finally building a worthy successor to the 100 cc prematurely killed and replaced by the KF that later turned out to be a failure. 
P. Mancini

Created by: cggiuliano - 29/09/22

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