Having originally planned to upgrade after our first year in the sport, if you had told me that we’d start 2016 on a 7-year old chassis my response would have been “I bloody hope not”! Such is karting… we’ve been running on a low tank, fund-wise, for a long time and there are always other things that you need to spend money on just to keep you on-track, especially if you want to compete. I stupidly sprayed the chassis at the start of last year and didn’t give it a lacquer coat(!) so oil and dirt have been clinging to the parts of my spray job that haven’t already flaked off and our chassis… well, it was a bit embarrassing. Something had to change!
Junior’s birthday was fast approaching and I’d been looking at chassis for quite a while: whereas sellers could barely give them away 12 months prior, the rise of TKM Extreme in Super One have seen tidy Tony Kart Vipers on the used market have become a thing of the past. So what about the Racer 401? For me, this was a more serious consideration: unlike the Viper, its CIK counterpart has evolved in recent years and I couldn’t help but wonder if at some point they might become the chassis of choice for OTK runners in TKM. In addition, they became fairly abundant on the used market at the end of last season although the majority have the “usual scrapes” which typically means running without chassis protectors (have you ever noticed how the underside of the front bar is always the last pic in the listing – if it is included?). A good rolling chassis would still cost £1800-£2000 and then I would have to get a front bar welded in, effectively ruining my investment (I know you don’t *have to* weld a bar in but I would have wanted to). Were there any other options? The Tal-Ko Veloce/TAG engine combination has seen a big rise in sales thanks in no small part to a certain cadet that stepped up last year and was instantly on the pace at most of the big meetings (you know – the bookies favourite for the title this year) 😉 It’s great for the class that more cadets have gone down the TKM route but a non-OTK chassis would mean replacing all of my spares, much of which would not quite be as readily available as the OTK parts.
In the end I opted for a new bare Viper frame: it was cheaper than a rolling chassis and didn’t involve me taking a welder to an almost new kart. I normally find that I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t so let’s just hope it all goes well and we avoid any mishaps that might threaten my investment.