MSA karting license arrives

Junior’s race license arrived last week. The application form had been ready since he passed his ARKS test in May but there seemed to be no rush. We didn’t have a lot of choice given all of the tracks in the area are MSA affiliated but that was fine with me; I think I’d prefer to run under the UK motorsport governing body. Then you start to look at the costs…

  • MSA ‘Go Karting’ Stater Pack: the all-important DVD containing everything you need to know to pass your ARKS test, an application form unobtainable elsewhere, the rule books (which you get another copy of when you receive your license) and a Demon Tweeks catalogue! £50
  • ARKS test: £93
  • Junior license application: free
  • Parent license: £17

I don’t begrudge paying for the service but, on reflection, there is a lot of bloated cost in there. To attract new people into karting the entry costs need to be lower, I think you could charge £20 for this and still make a healthy profit. The ARKS test is what it is and at least at Clay this cost includes a day’s practice. It is nice that the junior license application is free but the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, as they say… I am fundamentally against the parent license concept; I understand it was introduced so that juniors did not get penalised for their parent’s misdemeanors but what better deterrent than to exclude juniors if their parents cannot control themselves? For Dad/lad combos, excluding the Dad is the same thing anyway – Junior’s Mum isn’t bringing him karting! It would be fair to say that I definitely begrudged paying for a license to take Junior karting.

Consider this more of a grumble than a rant 🙂 Here’s hoping we are making the most of the license very soon!

Practice 9: Hmmm…..

A fair amount had changed on the kart since our problems at Dunkeswell; the back end had had some attention as I had fitted and subsequently returned a used axle, I had also fitted the OTK foot rest in the expectation that it would give Junior something to press his heels into when braking and I had ‘expertly’ created a foam insert for the seat after Junior had complained that he was uncomfortable in the seat in longer sessions. I had some things to test too: I had tightened the nassau in a bid to improve upon the vibration suffered by the ActionPro and I had also been lent a MyTach GPS watch to test (thanks, Colin!).

Again, we left late – only 15 mins but it meant that we didn’t make the first session although only because went on the track before it opened in order to set the GPS position and decided to walk the track since we were out there. Our first lap lasted all of about 30 seconds as Junior complained that his brakes weren’t working. What he actually meant was he didn’t like the heel rests and they restricted his use of the brake! Our second session ended with the kart stopping on track; I had hand-tightened the spark plug having noticed it wasn’t seated as we were pushing the kart to the pit lane and so we had lost compression (Noob Lesson 1 for the day).

We then had some decent track time mixed with some more mistakes on my part: a loose floor tray, lost nassau bracket bolts, another [different] loose nassau bolt. These are things I have to admit I’d never checked mid-session but, as Junior was starting to [sporadically] hit the kerbs through The Esses, the kart was starting to get a little roughed up (Noob Lesson 2 – check bodywork through the day). The seat insert of which I was very proud was a flop – the sides had to be removed in order for Junior to fit in, then he decided he preferred the seating position without it! We never captured any data on the MyTach, either through user error (not hitting the ‘Start’ button) or taking it off whilst we found some reliability and forgetting to put it back on again! The ActionPro still suffered vibration although tightening the nassau did help a little.

The biggest disappointment was the times we were producing – 37.x throughout the day, a second off of our best at our last visit in June. Conditions were pretty similar; the weather was warm and although the kart setup was not identical (the rear axle was at it’s middle height whereas it was low last time, we may have had a different carb and the tyres had obviously seen a little action at Dunks in July) but I didn’t feel that explained such a loss of pace. You could see that it was taking longer for the regulars to catch Junior on our last visit but that wasn’t the case this time. Junior was working on his lines but there is still a lot of room for improvement, most significantly in his lines and his braking points. Don’t get me wrong I very rarely criticise him; it would be a bit hypocritical as I am still making noob mistakes! He wants to race and we’ll do that when he is ready. I came hoping to confirm our readiness and left knowing that we still weren’t there yet. When we bought the kart I said we’d look to get a few races in at the end of the year. I thought we were a little ahead of plan but maybe that isn’t the case.

On the positive side, Junior ran for 170 laps despite the mishaps, did improve his line through The Esses a little and nothing unexplainable happened to the kart. Remember there is no such thing as bad seat time… 🙂

Cost of day: £12 petrol, £7 fuel for the kart (still plenty left from last time), £35 practice fee

6 nassau bracket bolts: £3!!!

Total spent so far: £3,143

 

Used axles are sold for a reason!

I recently bought an OTK axle from an auction site having gone through the due diligence of confirming it was straight and checking to see if it was excessively marked by grub screws (there was no close-up photo in the auction listing). When the axle arrived I found the grub screw marks were plentiful and fairly deep, not only that but once fitted it was clear that the axle was slightly bent. The lesson for today is that people sell axles because they have seen their best days so make sure you visually inspect a used axle. This one went back from whence it came!

I am still unsure about whether budget-bound folk like me should look opt for used OTK or a new Alto axle. I’ll mull that one over for a bit…

The kart… it works (I think)

I had been meaning to investigate the cause of the problem that caused an early end to our day at Dunkeswell the following day. I needed Junior to be home to help me get the kart off the trailer lid and onto the trolley (the wife refuses after hurting her back the only other time she tried – I won’t take that one any further!) and I had the kart all ready for his teatime arrival so that I could replace the fuel tank and try starting the kart. It was pretty dark when he got home at 9:30pm!!! Barely light enough to get everything replaced/checked never mind starting at 2-stroke go-kart in the front garden at such an unsociable hour. It had to be done though although a couple of quick starting attempts proved fruitless and I quickly threw in the towel.

Ten days passed (is it just me or is the kart easy to ignore when you know you have a problem to resolve?) and I mustered just enough enthusiasm to try again. The carb was holding the fuel ok but the kart just wasn’t firing up. I rested the plug on top of the engine and tried starting again to gauge the health (or otherwise) of the spark – there was no spark! I replaced the spark plug with a couple of the spares although one of the few pitfalls in buying a retirement package is that you’ve no idea as to the quality of the spares. Could three spark plugs all be bad? I made a note to myself to buy a new plug just to keep for troubleshooting and wondered what I could next. I’m still not great at engine problems but the only things I could test were the PVL coil and the ignition HT lead – both of which I had 🙂 The HT lead was the quicker win so that got replaced first. I was very pleasantly surprised to see a spark and then subsequently hear the engine fire up. I couldn’t run it for very long but it started a couple of times. The HT lead did suffer some damage when Junior had a Rotax drive over him but it had been fine until now. Ho hum…

Our race plans have been set back though – we need another good practice day now so it’s looking likely that we’ll head to Clay this week and hope for the best.