TKM doesn’t get a lot of publicity. I’ve always found Tal-Ko very helpful but their marketing campaign consists almost entirely of bigging themselves up when their team does well or when there is an opportunity to dispel some of the paddock gossip, be that proving that the Tag engine is as strong as its Direct Drive counterpart or the big bearing crankcase performing as well as the older small bearing equivalent. It’s a shame because it’s almost the perfect class: the engine parity is renown, there really is only a couple of tenths between most of the engines, and it is by far the cheapest class to start with 20+ years of engines out there on the used market. There is a lot to shout about and yet nobody does.
MSA numbers for TKM have dropped again with the rise of X30 taking a good chunk of the elite TKM drivers and IKR has been biting little pieces off of the budget end of the market. To give credit where it is due Tal-Ko have indentified Honda Cadet drivers as the Junior TKM entrants of tomorrow and have opened up the Festival to them. Hopefully they are rewarded with a good sized grid, we’ll soon see.
I’ve been mulling things over for some time and sent my thoughts to Tal-Ko last month. For me, TKM needs to establish itself as the undisputed budget class. Cheap entry to the class is one thing but, with tyres good for only two race days, engines needing a rebuild every ten hours and parts priced up there with the best of them, you can see why Rotax owners would quite rightly argue their case. Little can be done with regards the engine rebuild time, consider it the cost of such good engine parity but the tyres are another matter. The softer Maxxis New Age slick tyre was apparently introduced in response to driver demand for a grippier tyre and to enable to TKM to take on Rotax. X30 has rocked up and clearly displaced TKM as the Rotax beater. It is time for Tal-Ko to have a rethink; to take the class back to it’s roots. Imagine a set of tyres that cost £99/set and that were good for five races – now that’s a headline grabber. The harder tyre mandated for all five races of the series has been a hit at Clay Pigeon IKR. I think it would be a hit for MSA TKM. With cheaper tyres, I’d forgive Tal-Ko on the engine parts pricing! Can Tal-Ko afford to do something like this? One might question whether they can afford not to…
So what about promotion? I’m just one bloke who loves the class but I’m not going to be able to turn things around on my own. With that in mind, I yesterday created the Formula TKM Owners Group on Facebook. It was a spur of the moment thing, who knows whether it will fly. Hopefully it will engage the younger drivers who couldn’t care less about the mainstream karting forums. If we can get people discussing the class and sell how enjoyable the class is maybe we can turn things around. It’s worth a try at least!