Push the kart back on track, a hell of a problem!

Columns: Opinion
The FIA CIK has recently modified the technical regulations of the OK classes allowing the use of a throttle lever mounted on the kart seat. But evidently, this is not the solution to the real problem...(pm)

Put yourself not so much in the shoes of the driver, but in the shoes of the parent who has paid over 10,000 Euros for a race in OKJ in a good team. Ready... go! and, at the first corner, a race contact spins the aspiring-Verstappen child. Moral of the story: 10,000 Euros (if enough...) wasted. The return to classes with direct drive engines has been the solution to the continuous problems and prohibitive costs of the KF with electric start, but some things definitely need to be reviewed, both technically and humanely. In essence, the FIA CIK wanted to introduce the manual throttle on the seat to facilitate the start, but as we will see, this solution is just a placebo compared to a series of larger problems. And then, personally, I have strong doubts about the safety of this device: what if the kart started without the driver on, dangerously running some tens of meters and crossing the track during a race?

The technical side
We at Vroom have always contested the excessive weight of all categories, from Minikart to KZ. To this senseless weight increase is added the poor quality of modern tires, often the tipping point in the race. 140 kg of minimum weight for the OKJ is an unacceptable value because, to be "inclusive," it wants to put all drivers on the same level, even those who are evidently oversized for this sport.
The history of karting is full of overweight drivers who raced and won, but never in the past has there been a thought of being "inclusive" at the cost of making an average of 10 kg of lead loaded onto 90% of the starters. It's like if the Basketball Federation forced players over 2 meters tall to play on their knees to be inclusive towards those who are only a meter and a half tall. Back in the day, those who were overweight had 3 options: go on a diet, change sport, or prove to be good even if penalized by Mother Nature. So, by lowering the weight of the OKJ to 130 kg, we would have karts easier to start and safer in every circumstance. The fact that the performance gap between Minikart and OKJ is excessive, that the tracks are too fast and not formative enough, that the tires have poor quality at an absurd price, these are things we all know. The solution of the starter and centrifugal clutch would seem valid if it weren't for the usual cheaters ready to take advantage of the oversights of the inspectors...

The human side
I don't want to sound like an old boomer, but the complaint in the karting paddock is always the same: young people don't know how to start on their own and don't want to train to do it. It's true that a stick-thin 40 kg kid who has to push a 100 kg kart with the compression of a 125cc, even with the decompressor, is an enormous effort. But even those who are physically more capable have absolutely no intention of trying this not-easy athletic gesture. On the one hand, teams cannot ask those who pay considerable sums to get their hands dirty: the fear of losing the customer is too great. On the other hand, those who "invest" in the young driver feel a bit mocked by seeing their child forced into long training sessions on restarts.

In the old days of the 100 Cadetti, minimum weight 120 kg, half of the drivers in the race were capable of restarting on their own: the practice sessions always ended with that half-hour dedicated to start training. Then, in the race, there were volunteers on the track who had to help the drivers who ended up spinning restart. Does the past teach us anything? Certainly, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat its mistakes...

Created by: fmarangon2 - 05/03/24

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