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Between past and future, karting still looks to the factories! 21st century karting has not revolutionised the definition of the discipline that emerged in the 1970s after the pioneering period of all-round exploration, but has only gained complexity and weight to make it a little easier to start these strange machines. The addition of a clutch, an electric starter and its accessories as essential, even though they are heavy and trouble-making, to the highest level of competition in the decade of KF definitely hurt the sport. All agree that the simplicity of the sport's origins is behind us.

 

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For those nostalgic for the golden era, there are still historic karts to occupy the long winter evenings in a well heated workshop. Although the craze for old machines has not faded, it remains marginal. An enthusiast needs to have more of the spirit of a collector than a competitor to find happiness there. For two years, the karts of the 90s have regained the favour of drivers eager to feel the joys of these powerful, light and relatively reliable machines. Luca Corberi, initiator of the KFA Series at the Lonato track, was the first to organise real races for these air-cooled 100cc karts. Combining the pleasure of restoring old machines produced in large quantities (relative to karting as a whole) and the possibility of using them in competition is an excellent idea. A "Championship" of this kind has just been launched in France under the name of Formula 20,000, referring to the maximum speed reached by these small engines with a bewitching sound that created the legend of the discipline.


However, despite their original simplicity and very convincing performance, the OK and OK-Junior categories are struggling to find their place amongst a wider audience outside of international events. Their design qualities are not in question, it is the world that out of step, as their place has been taken by manufacturers with their own one-design engines, starting electrically and marketed as a complete package including the organisation of races. Don't complain about them, it is the logic of things.


For the moment, new challenges are looming on the horizon of karting, which will be a question of not repeating the mistakes of the past. From 2020 the new Mini class will be homologated by FIA Karting. This is an excellent opportunity to harmonise karting among the youngest from eight years old. The basis is not revolutionary, as the widely used Italian 60 Mini is the model. Its success will depend on the will of the ASNs (national federations) to follow the movement by ignoring certain protectionist reflexes. The bet has not been won in advance... Moreover, FIA Karting has not yet decided on the creation of an international title for the Mini, although it seems obvious for the sake of karting. The opening of top level competition to the youngest would boost the racing market as a whole, a fair deal after the decrease in the lower age limit for cars that has significantly weakened the field. This is a concrete challenge in the medium term, which could unite a large proportion of professionals around a common goal, at least those with enough vision.

 

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