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Will KF Save British Karting... Or Kill It?

When KF first appeared from the CIK, I thought that it was the end of the world! To me, KF just appeared to be Rotax MAX on steroids with too much grip, and unnecessary front brakes. Then, at the start of the first KF season, Intrepid explosively announced that they were boycotting this years KF season because they felt that they wouldn’t have competitive engines.

Birel also decided to pull out of the first few races of the season due to lack of engine development. The complete and utter domination from Vortex and TonyKart at the European, and World Championships didn’t help the situation. You would be forgiven for thinking it has been a very shaky start for KF!

However, KF enthusiasm has been gaining momentum, and it now looks as if the KF philosophy might be exactly what the UK karting scene needs.

We reveal why Paul Fletcher thinks that Vortex doesn’t have the advantage as perceived by many, and why Mark Rose thinks KF3 as exactly what karting needs. James Mills comments on why he thinks KF parity is better compared to Rotax MAX, and Simon Wright describes why he feels KF3 will be better than Jr MAX. Ex-KF1 racer Ollie Millroy shares his views on KF.

Not forgetting the ‘small guy’, we ask the normal karters what they think about KF, with their main concern pointing towards ever-inflating costs involved with karting.

Paul Fletcher – PF International Kart Team and Circuit Owner

“The main cost with racing is in travel, hotels, and hiring mechanics. But the actual KF engines themselves are cheaper to run. The crank will last 10x longer than before, so they are definitely cheaper” When asked about KF into club racing he had this to say “Before, when asked by a junior what class to do, I would say Rotax, and the same for a Senior. Now I would recommend KF3, and KF2. It would be great to see Cadets, KF3, KF2, and then KF1 at all the clubs across the country. At the last Rotax Super 1 round there was huge interest in the KF program, and the up coming Winter Series”. On TonyKart's dominance at the World Championship Paul Fletcher believes that “TonyKart were better organized. They ran like McLaren. I don't believe the IAME engines were as slow as they appeared ”

 

mark litchfeild karting

Mark Litchfield, one of Paul's drivers, competed in this years KF1 World Karting Championship

 

Mark Rose – Karting Guru

“The CIK have got it right with KF2, and KF3 I must admit. I run Tom Grice in KF3 and we run our motors for nearly 20 hours. The reliability is 100%. The engine is fantastic.” However, Mark has concerns about KF1 “There should be a limit on data acquisition. TonyKart had 3 or 4 experts from Pi analyzing their data at the World Championships. I am by no means taking anything away from TonyKart, they have the best drivers, and have done a fantastic job, but the average team who wants to race KF1, just can't compete with these guys. I would like to see this changed”.

 

tom grice karting

Tom Grice, one of Rose's drivers. Winner of the German KF3 Championship, and 2nd in KF3 Euros.

 

James Mills – JM Racing

“In terms of entry level karting KF4 could be the better entry level option for seniors in karting than KF2. But the MSA stamped that out. I believe KF4 would be a better rival to Rotax. As it is, I think that karting will probably still see Rotax MAX as the entry level to karting, and MiniMax as the half way house between Cadets and KF3. I think Junior MAX will suffer.

The KF3 is really good and is exceptional quality. I have run several engines on a dyno and not had one that has lacked performance, unlike what happens with MAX engines. Out of the box 95% of our KF3 engines are competitive...the costs in KF3 aren't going to be any different than in Junior Rotax. KF2... it's difficult to say. The initial cost of a KF2 is quite a lot more than a MAX, but once your set up and ready to go, it isn't bad at all. Unlike MAX, I can give someone an engine that will be good, but in MAX you can't give someone an out of the box engine and expect them to go to Super 1 with it”

 

ollie walker karting

Ollie Walker. Testing KF3 with JM Racing

 

Simon Wright - Wright Karts/UK IAME Importer

“Engines sales of the KF3 will grow very fast. The Seniors will take a while because of the MAX. A lot of people will not feel the need to change over right away from MAX in the smaller clubs, but at larger ones like PFi we will see a change”. When asked about cost Simon said “KF2 costs are very small. I sold an engine in July, and have just had it in for a full service after 10 hours. Before with the 100cc I had it in every weekend. Running a KF3 at club level will be genuinely similar to running a Jr MAX. The KF engines are so similar, and if there is a difference you can pay a tuner to £300 to get it working. Compare that to MAX where you buy a new engine and have no idea whether it will be competitive. And if you want a competitive MAX engine it's going to cost thousands. Also, you then have to spend money on a sealing agent if you want it rebuilt. With a KF, you can do it yourself”.

What about costs for the small budget club racer? “The problem you have there is ‘trying to achieve the impossible’. Karting is expensive. The thing with KF compared to MAX is value for money. They only cost a few hundred quid more but you know your getting an engine that's good or equal to any other engine out there.”

Ollie Millroy – Ex-KF1 Karter

“At first it was quite hard to get used to the KF1 due to the lack of power compared to the 100cc engine, but as far as racing goes, I thought the reliability of the KF engines was much better than the old engines. However, some say they don't need to be rebuilt as much, but everyone was still rebuilding them every race”. On whether costs could increase for the normal club racer Ollie had this to say, “Yes they could, although if you have a look at racing in Europe there is no TKM and not a lot of Rotax compared to the UK. They seem to manage better. I think one of the main problems with karting in the UK is that there are just too many classes”

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