If you are into karting, you should know that nothing puts as big a smile on a driver’s face as this class does. Doing more than 130 km/h down the straight, nothing can describe the roar! As Paolo De Conto said in his interview on this issue, KZ shows that karting is a sport of its own, and not just a stepping-stone to F.1. Talking about performance and feelings, a KZ is closer to a F.1 more than any other racing car! So, is this the only reason why this class is so popular everywhere in the world? Hell, no! There are some other reasons that we’re going to look into.
THANKS TO VERY STABLE TECHNICAL REGULATIONS OVER THE LAST DECADE AND TO THE LACK OF APPEAL OF INTERNATIONAL DIRECT DRIVE CLASSES AT PROFESSIONAL/SENIOR LEVEL, THE KZ HAS BECOME THE MOST POPULAR CATEGORY IN KARTING. LET’S FIND OUT WHY.
The engine According to CIK-FIA technical regulation, the engine must be a water cooled single cylinder of maximum capacity of 125 cc with reed-valve intake and a carburetor made of aluminum, with a Venturi type diffuser with a maximum diameter of 30 mm round. It must not be possible to dissociate the engine from the gearbox and the engine case must be made of only 2 parts (vertical or horizontal). Only inserts for crankshaft bearings and fixing elements (drilled holes, dowels) are authorized. The gearbox must have from 3 to 6 fixed ratios defined by the homologation sheet. Moreover in KZ2 the gearbox must be hand operated and exclusively mechanical gearbox control without a servo system and any system of ignition cutting is forbidden, while in KZ1 the electro-mechanical gearbox control is allowed. Maybe not the simplest machine, but we must acknowledge that karting seems to have lost its simplicity since the 100cc were forced to historical races only… Anyway, KZ is a mixture of power, reactivity and sheer speed. Thanks to engines that produce more than 45bhp, these karts are real engineering beasts that thrust power at each and every turn thanks to a 6-speed gearbox operated by a sequential gear lever next to the steering wheel. With these characteristics it leaves you breathless! needed to finish on points more than taking a dominant victory.
Result in the championship: Camponeschi champion, Ardigò vice-champion. Overall, the Tony Kart duo showed tremendous consistency and the ability to dominate, which indicated a similar trend at the World Championships. In short, the Tony Kart duo was the outright favorite, the team to beat.
Technical stability Direct drive classes have been changing too often in the last years, creating a general instability in the karting world: imagine a team that wants to invest in one category and buying karts to get new customers: where should they invest? Do they invest in a stable environment such as the KZ class or do they have to jump into the dark with the direct drive classes? The answer is easy, in fact, if you look at the OK class, the teams that are racing it are big teams, or official teams who have to be constantly on the edge, with no regards as to technical regulation.
THE CIK-FIA STATES: THE USE OF GEARBOX KARTS HAS CONSIDERABLY INCREASED OVER THE LAST DECADE, MAINLY THANKS TO STABLE TECHNICAL REGULATIONS. THE FOUNDATIONS OF ENGINE HOMOLOGATION WERE IMPLEMENTED IN 1998 AND HAVE PRACTICALLY NOT CHANGED SINCE.
LEARNING TO FLY KZ could be really instructive for a step into car racing too: few years ago all the minor formulas were provided with a sequential gearbox activated by a lever on the right side of the cockpit, so it was a system practically equal to the KZ. Nowadays they have paddle shifters mounted directly on the steering wheel, so this aspect has a minor impact. But there are other aspects which are really important, brakes for example. KZ reacts similarly to race cars also when speaking about braking systems because it has three discs (for all the wheels) activated simultaneously with just the left pedal. Moreover it has a brake-force distributor, a system that decides the prevalence of braking power between the two axes: this is something that is present on racing cars too.
Highly diffused if your pocket it’s not too deep, paradoxically the KZ could be your solution: thanks to its technical stability over the years, the secondary market is full of parts and pre-assembled karts ready to race. You can have the thrill of the maximum expression of karting at a fairly lower price than the cost of an OK! This could be the best solution also if you want to race it: organizers and promoters know that it’s one of the most popular classes, for this reason they’ re-creating new categories to induce people (even the less experienced) to race their own KZs. For example Deutsche Kart Meisterschaft this year introduced the DMSB Shifterkart Cup. This cup is an addition to the German Shifterkart Championship and it’s going to become the ª second leagueº of German shifterkart sports. The idea of the championship has been developing over the past months in cooperation with teams and drivers. The best drivers are going to be promoted, and others are going to be relegated. Therefore, at the DSKC 2016, only drivers who haven’t driven among the point ranks of a CIK-FIA European Championship grade series (KZ and KZ2) or haven’t qualified for the final phase of a KZ World Championship during the past two years (2014 and 2015), are going to be allowed to start. Moreover, the top ten of the DSKM 2015 are not allowed to start at the DMSB Shifterkart Cup 2016. This year the 15 year-old Max Tubben won the category. In Italy the local ASN (Aci Sport) introduced the new KZ3 class which includes two Italian categories: 125 Club and the Pro driver (Under and over). It has the aim to increase the numbers of drivers involved into kart racing. Regarding his sporting and technical regulation, it will be divided into three classes of age with different specs in terms of engine homologation and minimum weight: Junior, under and Over. These were only two examples which tell us how this kind of engine is raced and diffused.
AGAIN MAX VERSTAPPEN IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW KZ CAN HELP A DRIVER STEP INTO CAR RACING: ONLY ONE YEAR IN THE EUROPEAN FORMULA 3 BEFORE STEPPING (SUCCESSFULLY) INTO F.1, FIRST WITH TORO ROSSO AND THEN WITH RED BULL.
source: A. Roca / VROOM International N.185 2016-11 | LINK