Driving a Club100 with the BUKC
Club100, the suppliers of the karts for the championship, have
just brought a load of Birel chassis to rejuvenate their fleet.
Mounted on the chassis are detuned air-cooled TKM BT82 2-stroke
engine (as used in Formula TKM). The ultra hard compound Bridgestone
YDSs are the choice of tyres.
Having watched the old fleet of Club100 karts across the country,
I have never really been too excited about them as karts, even though
I am a fan of the concept. They are a fantastic place to get your
toe in the water if you're looking to get into karting however.
So when jumping into the new Birel chassis Club100 I wasn't expecting
too much, but I was quite excited about the hard compound tyres
they were using.
They don't have clutches, or starter motors, it's just bump and
go! Considering that this is one of the most popular forms of karting
in the country, it is quite bizarre that while the rest of the world
thinks TaG is the answer to attracting new people, it appears that
for Club100 it isn't a problem at all.
So what are they like to drive? The chassis are new, and still
relatively straight, which means they are all pretty consistent.
But shockingly, these karts lean towards the 'great' era of karting.
The karts use the central pin on the steering column so the steering
geometry isn't like modern karts, and the tyres are rock hard. You
actually have to drive them oldskool style. That means making the
kart work for you. You have to work the wheel hard to get the thing
to turn, and use the brakes hard to slow the kart down.
The tyres are simply fantastic. Who needs grip? The way you as
a driver have to maximize the grip available makes for such a satisfying
The engines are vastly underpowered, but of course they have to
be. Longevity, and reliability are key for Club100 to turn over
a profit. Any more power wouldn't really be suitable for new karters.
What concerned me was this - I was driving a suped up hire kart
thinking 'this is way better than most of the other karts available
to go race proper'. Surely that isn't right? I should be thinking
the opposite! For what they are, the karts were just great!
I was out with the Club100 lads/lasses on the pre-race test day.
Of course there were many new people to the sport who took sometime
getting used to the karts, but that's understandable, we've all
been there. However, on the flip side there were some top quality
drivers, many of whom have raced karts and cars at a high level.
There were plenty of kart branded suits and flash lids. On the test
day before the race there must have been around 200-300+ students
who were in attendance. It was phenomenal, and many of these students
were totally new to karting. It was very exciting seeing so many
drivers out there karting for the first time.
Race day format is quite simple. There are some individual team
sprint races, and then some team endurances. If I were a student,
this is the sort of thing I would love to be doing instead of some
boring studying! The atmosphere was very hectic, yet exciting.
The races themselves were very clean, and the students certainly
got plenty of laps under their belts. Mind you, there were a few
anxious moments when the rain clouds opened. Club100 only uses slicks,
so when it rains, you're out there on your own, with slicks, on
a wet track! Fun....and somewhat slidey stuff!!
The fabulous championship has been going from strength to strength
over the last few years, but what is puzzling is the lack of support
from major kart manufacturers/dealers. We continually hear moans
that people aren't interested in karting anymore, yet there are
literally hundreds of people involved in things like the BSKC/BUKC
. It appears, on the surface at least, that zero effort is made
on the behalf of the karting establishment to get involved and encourage
'proper' karting to these racers. Personally, I would like to see
an organisation like Tal-Ko offering special deals, and test days
with displays at each round for Formula TKM. Surely 200-300 students
with loans to spend irresponsibly is too tempting to miss!
But enough of complaining about the woes of karting! The BUKC looks
to go from strength to strength this year. If your at a University
that hasn't yet got involved with this awesome championship head
over to www.bukc.co.uk
for more details.
Alan Dove - 11/02/08