Micro and Mini Max Rotax Engines set to revitalise karting in SA

Cameron DiasFLATTENING THE LEARNING CURVE!

Rotax introduces two new junior karting engines for youngsters to smooth the way to racing stardom: The new Micro Max and Mini Max classes

Rotax, makers of the world’s most successful and reliable karting engines, have introduced two new racing classes for youngsters determined to make their mark in the exacting world of motor racing.

For the past four decades karting has provided the springboard for international motor racing success, spawning F1 champions like Lewis Hamilton and our own Jody Scheckter, and today things are more competitive than ever, with young girls and boys barely old enough to start school cutting their teeth in karting.

Micro briefingIndeed, South Africa has long subscribed to this philosophy of “start them while they’re young” and we currently run championships for kids aged between five to eight years old in various regions. These so-called “Cadet” class karts employ 50 cc engines tuned to produce 3 kW, and it is a treat to see fields of up to 20 of these children barrelling around a track with crash helmets that seem to be as broad as their young shoulders.

“The situation we now find ourselves in is that the next step up for these youngsters is into the 60 cc National Championship classes, for drivers aged from 8 to 13 years-old. The biggest problem with these classes – and they now boast national championship status – is that the step up in power is huge,” says long-time Rotax importer Ed Murray.

“From 3 kW, the young driver suddenly finds himself having to cope with 9 kW from a highly-tuned 60 cc engine –that’s three times the power. It may not sound like much to an adult, but when you are eight years old it is a frightening step. This is where Rotax comes in, with its new Micro Max engine,paving the way for an intermediary step up the karting ladder.”

Micro track 2The Micro Max karting engine, designed for drivers aged 7-10, is yet another variation on the incredible Rotax formula for success that sees the same basic engine used across awhole age-group range, with easy-to-facilitate but telling changes made to the engines to restrict or increase power.

Thus the Micro Max engine still employs the same 125 cc capacity as its more powerful brothers in theRotaxseries that sees steps in power all the way up to 22 kW in the top single-gear engine run in the Senior Max series for drivers 15 years and older.

But the Micro Max motor, although using the same bullet proof cylinder and engine casing, has restrictors employed to reduce its power output to 6 kW. This is achieved by introducing a thick spacer under the cylinder to reduce compression and combustion area squish, adding a very small exhaust restrictor, and using a non-expansion-box exhaust system, which effectively does away with any supercharging effect as enjoyed by the more highly tuned two strokes. In addition the radiator employed is much smaller on the Micro Max engine.

This engine is designed to fit on the kart chassis currently used in the 60 cc Maxterino and Mini Rok classes. The advantage of this is that this chassis can still be used if the competitor wants to compete in the more powerful 60 cc classes, run for eight to 13-year-olds at National Championships. And theMicro Max engine can also be used for the next step up, where it is easily up-graded with inexpensive parts.

Mini Track 1RotaxMini Max, for karters aged 10-13, is the next step up the karting ladder after Maxterino/Mini Rok/Micro Max. The same base Rotax engine is employed, but with less restriction. A racing expansion-box type exhaust (the identical one used in Junior and Senior Max classes) and a larger diameter exhaust restrictor is employed and power for Mini Max now rises to 11 kW. This is the ideal stepping stone towards the Junior Max class (for 13-16-year-olds), where again there is a big power hike to 15 kW. This newMini Maxclass will employ the samechassis as used in the 60ccNational classes. The advantage for some drivers will be that the weight limit moves from the 110 kg of the 60 cc class to 125 kg. Many youngsters suffer growth spurts at this stage of their lives and the 125 kg weight limit will be easier to make.

The Rotax Solution. By employing the same basic engine across four classes, Rotax enables the same engine to be used in all of them, merely by adding or removing easy to fit ancillaries. The incredible reliability of the Rotax engines mean that they can be used for a number of seasons with only minor parts replaced. This is why, in terms of numbers, Rotax is the most successful kart engine manufacturer in the world, with over 100 000 engines having been sold, all built to the same basic design since 1998.

“The Micro Max engine provides an easy to drive flat power curve that assists youngsters to recover from mistakes easily and Rotax’s legendary reliability comes to the fore in real cost savings, “ says Ed Murray . “Although a Micro Max engine costs more than its 50 or 60cc rivals the running costs are a fraction of conventional motors thanks to modern materials and very low stress levels. There is even a cost saving on oil consumption – 50% less – and it’s kinder to the environment in noise and air pollution.”

Mini track 2It is planned to introduce the two new classes over the course of the 2016 season, and already youngsters are enthralled by the new Micro Max and Mini Max classes, many of them having sampled the new engines at a club race meeting demonstration outing in January 2016.

“This is the future of karting, where we introduce affordable, ultra-reliable engines to an age group where enthusiasm is at its peak, and where youngsters and parents don’t want their race weekends hampered by reliability issues or forever running-in engines after rebuilds.  With these engines running in such low states of tune, and with no modifications of any type allowed in any of the Rotax classes, the emphasis will all be about the driver, which is the way Rotax intended it to be when it started this amazing engine series 18 years ago.”

* Cameron Dias, an 11-year-old karter from Vereeniging, took part in an invitational Mini Max race at the recent 2015 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held at Portimao, on the Algarve coast of Portugal. Although she had never seen the circuit before and was up against top local Portuguese and Spanish drivers totalling a field of some 35 drivers, Cameron, racing as a Portuguese national, did South Africa proud by finishing fourth. Cameron was on hand to try the new Micro Max engine at the demonstration run on home soil at Zwartkops in January and naturally was highly complementary about the prospect of both Micro max and the Mini Max classes coming to South Africa.

For more information on the new Micro Max and Mini Max karting classes, visit www.kart.co.za or contact Jennifer Verheul on  082 294 7485.