Chapeau, Mr. CRG

Columns: Interview
Giancarlo Tinini granted us a bombshell interview, from which his integrity as a man and entrepreneur emerges, as well as his being a great connoisseur of karting. What arose was a profound critical analysis full of human, technical, and sporting insights, often beyond his own economic interests. (p. mancini)

Chapeau is a French expression with which, by miming the gesture of taking off your hat, you show your respect towards a person. Today the world of karting should unite in a similar gesture in front of Giancarlo Tinini who, with much serenity, spoke about the positive and negative sides of this sport. It takes courage to say certain things and, as we know, courage must be rewarded with the utmost respect. 

You already know the first question, and I couldn't help but ask it: the contact between your Gabriel Gomez and Joe Turney deprived you of a probable victory in the 2023 OK World Championship. Now, tempers cooled, how do you judge this incident? 
Let's be clear: victory in the World Championship is tempting for everyone. The competitive spirit is at the highest levels, almost to the point of exasperation, and it’s right for a driver to give it a try in every way possible. I consider the incident between Gomez and Turney a normal race contact in an important final. Let's also say that if Gomez had found himself in Turney's place and hadn't tried, I would have given him a good earful! 

In the 2024 calendar we have the European Championship over 4 races and the World Championship over a single race. From the perspective of what happened in the OK 2023 world championship, isn't it madness, considering that between the WSK, the Italian Championship, and all other minor races, you are at the track every weekend? 
I completely agree: a single race for the world championship is penalizing. My opinion is I’d definitely see the World Championship over 4 races and the European Championship at a single race as much better.

After a somewhat opaque period, CRG has regained maximum competitiveness in all categories. What had gone wrong: the technical aspect or the human aspect? 
We have made a profound technical change with our engine partners. Today, we work together: we discuss matters, create situations, and we collaborate by confronting each other without too many qualms, exactly what didn't happen before. In this way, it’s been possible to climb back on top and become protagonists again. 

In essence, you paid the price of going back to using other people's engines after the Maxter experience, where you had control over the entire supply chain from production to development and on-track management. Do you regret closing Maxter from this perspective? 
No, I don’t regret it. Technically our engines were at the top and we demonstrated this with the results, both in KZ and KF. The problem was to create a market for these engines, which was not possible. We have thus reached the point of giving up this adventure, rather than continuing to
channel resources which, in the end, would also have weighed on CRG. 

The victory in the last race of the 60 Minikart Italian Championship definitively highlighted CRG's competitiveness in this difficult category. What do you think of the 60? 
The 60 Minikart is the children's category and, as such, should be protected upstream. The first to protect children should be parents, who should not allow their that children not attend school and are not able to have a social life outside circuits. Then there’s the federation, which should impose that the 60 races be held between Saturday and Sunday, with an absolute ban on entering the track on the preceding days. And then there's the matter of technical scrutineering...

Ah, the technical checks: I myself proposed a technical super-commission which would go to the tracks for spot checks with exemplary disqualifications for the smart-asses and criminal charges for the crime of sports fraud, complete with a trial. But they called me crazy... 
Instead, that is the way to go. Stefano Morsicani, who unfortunately is no longer with us, placed 8 engines in the first 8 places in a JUNIOR race in Italy. With the same engines, he went to England and was disqualified. There should be a real and proper parallel commission, made up of Italian and... why not... also foreign scrutineers, who, thanks to "random" and "surprise" visits, are able to guarantee that the checks are done properly. It’s the promoters themselves who should demand this service, to protect themselves and the quality of the competition. One hears constant inferences about this situation in the paddocks... ensuring transparency is probably the only way to resolve it.

In addition to the commission, I too proposed the return to diaphragm carburetors in place of the float chamber still used today in the 60. Even there I was criticized for this proposal. 
I myself criticized you, but today I recognize that I made a big mistake. The 60-class kids
don't learn to manage the carburetion and, when they arrive in OKJ, it takes them a year to learn how to work the carburetor. Some don't even try to touch the screws! And this is unacceptable. In my way of seeing things, we should immediately return to diaphragm carburetors: these
children are extremely intelligent and, if the kids of 40 years ago knew how to do carburetion, I don't see why they shouldn't be able to do it today. 

In my investigation I realized that the first people who didn't want diaphragm carburetors in the 60 were the tuners. The idea I got was that the tuner, without fussing too much, knows who to give the right carburetion to and who not... just fit a larger jet to the select right engine. 
Yes, these are indeed things that can happen too. 

We are at the end of the first season of OKN. What is your assessment of this category? 
I like OKN and my assessment is positive. We have removed two huge nuisances: the electric starter and the centrifugal clutch. Slowly, karting is returning to its origins. And the success of the OKN is proof that people want a simple and, obviously, more performing kart than the single-speed karts.

Eh, Giancarlo, but it was you who said that "there's no going back"... (ed.) 
I'm happy to hear these words, also because we were all very disappointed by KF which, in fact, destroyed the single-speed categories. 

Let's talk about technique and regulations. At Vroom, we are always fighting against excessive minimum weights. Once upon a time, if you were 2 meters tall, you didn’t become a kart driver... You went to play basketball. 
A light kart is easier to start and manage, without a doubt. If you are 2 meters tall or ballasted, we don't care, what counts is the heart, the head, and the passion you can put into this sport. 

Let's talk about starting the OK. How come I never see drivers practicing pushing the kart on their own; even the most experienced drivers don't seem to want to do it. 
This is a big problem and I'm starting to ask my drivers to practice pushing the kart. It isn’t easy to get them back to mastering this technique, but we are succeeding, albeit with difficulty. 

If we could solve the problem of cheats, wouldn't it make sense to refit a Horstmann-type clutch and starter with an external starter on the OKJ? 
Yes, undoubtedly, but we would have to prevent a few clever people from finding a way to circumvent the regulations.

Don't you think the plastic rear bumper makes it more difficult to push the kart? 
Again because I like to figure things out on my own, I tried pushing the kart on the bumper and it's really difficult compared to the old bumper. Certainly, the bumper has prevented many crashes in recent seasons, but the same result would have been achieved with a steel bumper with 2 lateral flaps as used in Australia. When I look at the situation in its entirety, the most important thing is that the "safety" objective has been achieved. 

And what can we say about the tires? With "synthetics" the performance is worse than the vegetable ones; you don't have the same grip. But they cost an awful lot! 
Today's tires have changed the way of driving karts. Once upon a time, the driving was spectacular and, with the rubberized track, the drivers even drove on 2 wheels. Today the problem is that we are always looking for grip. Tires approved for 200 laps are nonsense. In a race, if we cover 80 laps, let’s make 80-lap tires. Since I don't trust idle chatter, I wanted to try the tires on the track on Monday that someone said didn’t work at the Sunday final. I can tell you that, based on our evidence, this is not true. But producing 200-lap tires makes no sense. Softer compounds are needed to make driving more exciting and selective.

Hard tires have led to the birth of "disposable" chassis. CRG has never believed in this fad, but perhaps you paid a little by having to run lower in height with relative wear of the spars on the asphalt. 
“Disposable” chassis, believe me, are smoke and mirrors… cinema to justify elevated costs to customers. Us, we don't do these things. The fact that the tubes wear out depends a lot on the track and the driver’s driving style. The problem is the curbs which, at the point where they end, are not rounded and the edge part, if you go up too far with the wheel, touches under the chassis. The curbs on the side opposite the track should be redesigned: they must not be steps. On tracks with low, rounded curbs, there are no problems even with drivers who drive well over the limit. Everyone has this problem, only there are those who throw away the chassis before... 

Would it be appropriate to impose a minimum ground clearance? 
No. If there was only one tire, I would say - yes. But with a different tire for each category, with a different shoulder compliance, it would be a disaster. 

The races you organize with rental karts are enjoying good success. What do you think about that? 
I think it's the simplest, most economical, and most fun way to approach competitive karting without spending out-of-this-world amounts. With 400 Euros, you can race a weekend. We really believe in this formula and we are investing in it. 

CRG has presented the 2024 evolutions of its chassis range. What's new? 
Our company philosophy is to offer everyone top-of-the-line material and, for this reason, the frame range takes advantage of the experiences gained in the 2023 races by the official team. In essence, the KZ that we are going to sell is Gustafsson's kart, the single gear is Gomez's kart. 

Can you ask for more?

Created by: cggiuliano - 08/11/23

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