CIK-FIA has published further ‘Best Of 2017’ articles, including a quick interview with Mick Doohan.
Champion & Driver’s Father: Mick Doohan
A great star of Motorcycle Grand Prix at the dawn of the 2000s, the Australian Michael Doohan has an eloquent track record including five consecutive titles of 500cc World Champion and 54 victories. He is very present with his son during international karting Competitions throughout the year. Twice Australian Champion in 2015 and 2016, this year Jack has completed his first full season in OK-Junior. Despite his height, he was very fast. He climbed on the podium of the CIK-FIA European Junior Championship and won the last Final in Sweden, before taking 6th place in the World Championship.
MICHAEL, DID YOU INTERVENE IN JACK’S CHOICE OF TO RACE IN KARTING RATHER THAN MOTORCYCLES?
Not at all! I have always done karting with friends for fun and he was bathed in this atmosphere. He naturally wanted to compete when it was his turn. Anyway, Jack prefers rugby, surfing and karting to bikes, which is a very good thing in my opinion!
WHAT IS YOUR ANALYSIS OF KARTING SAFETY?
Karting itself is not a very dangerous sport. Sometimes I would like some circuits to be better organised. I think that closer collaboration between teams and managers responsible for safety could solve some problems, but there are no serious shortcomings in this area.
HOW IS YOUR FATHER/SON RELATIONSHIP DURING THE RACES?
I think I can say that everything is fine between us. It is a pleasure for me to be present at all his races. I’m at his side, we talk freely, but I let the professionals do the technical work and the strategy.
WHAT IS JACK’S FUTURE IN KARTING?
The question arose of continuing to race and learn more in OK for one more year. Karting is an excellent school for young people. Then Red Bull chose Jack to join their Junior programme in single-seaters. This is not an opportunity to miss. Given his ambitions and his size, the project makes sense.
Champion & Driver’s Father: Juan Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya has very discreetly accompanied his young son Sebastian at the Junior Competitions of the CIK-FIA since the middle of the 2017 season. A Formula 1 Driver from 2001 to 2006, the Colombian Champion won seven Grand Prix at Williams then McLaren, before turning to NASCAR and IndyCar. Sebastian Montoya made his Karting Competition debut in the United States in 2013 before competing in the CIK-FIA European Junior Championship from the second Competition at Oviedo with the factory Birel ART Racing Team.
JUAN PABLO, CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR PRESENCE IN THE BIREL ART AWNING?
My father was a Birel importer in Colombia and I myself competed in karting on a Birel chassis. I have been close to Ronni Sala and family for a long time. I really like this brand. Therefore it is natural that Sebastian made his debut in OK-Junior this year with the Birel ART Racing team. My son has just turned 12 and we took advantage of the opportunity to race in OK-Junior to come to Europe. It is a very good way for him to enrich his experience alongside the best. The standard is very high and the category is really interesting.
WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR A DRIVER LIKE YOU TO SEE HIS SON BEHIND THE WHEEL?
It’s very nice to share my passion with my son. We enjoy each other’s company, Sebastian and I. And then I can give him advice! I’m not particularly worried about him, especially as safety is taken very seriously in CIK-FIA races. Much more than in the United States. The detachable front fairing has calmed the racing well.
We have no particular aim in the medium or long term. Sebastian has been competing in kart racing for several seasons now, and his interest has not stopped. He is learning and he wants to continue. We’ll see where that takes him, but he has no career plan yet. It’s just a matter of having fun and making progress.
Trent Valley Kart Club: Nigel Edwards
The PF International circuit this year hosted the CIK-FIA World Championship for the OK and OK-Junior categories. It was largely due to the Trent Valley Kart Club that the popular Competition was a success. For the meticulous care given to the sporting, technical, media and public aspects and the omnipresent conviviality in a framework allowing the British passion for motor sport to express itself, the team from the club at Brandon deserves the warmest congratulations.
A CIK-FIA International Race Director, as well as President of the Karting Committee within the MSA, Nigel Edwards participated in this interview as the President of the Trent Valley Kart Club.
NIGEL EDWARDS, CAN YOU GO BACK TO THE TVKC’S DEBUT AND YOUR ROLE IN THE CLUB?
We need to start by talking about Paul Fletcher, a fundamental personality in today’s karting in the UK. Paul is above all a great racing enthusiast who created and financed the PFI circuit in 1994. TVKC was born soon after to manage the organisation of the sporting events. It quickly grew to become the biggest of the country with 900 members. I was a simple member before being honoured to be proposed to succeed the outgoing president, ten years back.
HOW DOES THE TRENT VALLEY KART CLUB WORK?
It is above all a club of motorsport enthusiasts like hundreds of others in the United Kingdom. It is a structure and a place where members like to meet, not only during Competitions. Although Paul Fletcher is the owner of the track and continues to invest when the need arises, it soon became apparent that TKVC had to live up to this infrastructure in order to exploit its capabilities, while assuming financial autonomy. This is how the club has progressively evolved towards becoming a more and more professional operation. I am not talking about remuneration, but about the quality of services provided to competitors. From the outset, we had the ambition to make English karting exist at the international level. By bringing together skills and goodwill, we managed to form a team of true specialists. In the TVKC, everyone knows their role and takes full responsibility, which is motivating and above all very effective. We do everything we can to ensure that our customers are satisfied with the quality of what we offer them. Winner or loser, everyone must go home on a Sunday night safe and happy with their weekend.
WHAT IS THE TVKC RACE SCHEDULE?
The backbone of our calendar is our own championship. We organise a club race every first Sunday of the month. The formula is popular as we gather more than 300 Drivers each time, which is fantastic when we remember that the season starts in January in the cold and with very short days. We also run our Winter Series from January to March and we host some national races sanctioned by the MSA. This is about 15-16 meetings a year.
WHAT ARE TRENT VALLEY KART CLUB’S AMBITIONS?
Successfully organising a CIK-FIA World Championship has long been our goal. The team had to adapt to the rules of international Competition and progress in many areas. We particularly cared about the reception of participants and the public. I think we have reached a very good standard, but it is always possible to do better. In any case we want to continue to offer excellent racing to all competitors who come to PFI. Racing is tough in this country, so we must never rest on our laurels.
TM Racing: Claudio Flenghi
Three major Italian kart engine manufacturers have dominated the market for several years. Among them, TM Racing distinguished itself in 2017 with a very significant proportion of the engines in the KZ and KZ2 categories. The famous Pesaro brand was rewarded with the title of CIK-FIA World Champion and European Champion in KZ and the victory in CIK-FIA International Super Cup for KZ2. Double success in OK-Junior also enriched an already very strong track record with the CIK-FIA World Junior Championship and the European Junior Championship.
A meeting with one of the two founders of the company, Claudio Flenghi, helps to better understand the reasons for these many successes.
MR. FLENGHI, CAN YOU INTRODUCE TM RACING?
I created TM in 1977 with Francesco Battistelli. Our activity was already shared between kart engines and off-road motorbikes around our shared passion for racing. At that time, two-stroke motorcycle engines were quite similar to those used in karting. We gradually started our own motorcycle production and gained very good results. TM Racing is not a big motorcycle manufacturer in terms of quantity, but our reputation is excellent in Competition. Competition from Japanese brands has accustomed us to fighting against very powerful opponents. At the same time, our kart engines allowed us to compete in a very competitive environment and to push our research even further.
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE OVERALL SUCCESS OF TM RACING ENGINES IN KZ AND KZ2?
There are several explanations for that. I think the first is that we have designed a very strong product. From there, it is less difficult to create a good race engine. Many tuners like to work on our engines. This creates a strong rivalry that also benefits the factory itself. Our race service is very active. The name of Franco Drudi, who has been working for us for 28 years, is often rightly quoted. But I would also like to celebrate the work by the entire team that allows us to provide a particularly efficient service to our customers. Our ongoing investment during the Competitions is one of the reasons for our success.
This year the possibility of merging KZ and KZ2 was mentioned, but it is not a good idea. We need to work with the big professional teams in KZ to test and develop our equipment. We also need the wider market that KZ2 can offer. If the two categories merge, everyone will lose on both counts. The amateurs will not want to compete with the professionals and the eventual situation will be even worse.
WHAT ABOUT THE NEW DIRECT-DRIVE CATEGORIES?
The karting market is not easy in these times of economic crisis. It’s hard to be competitive in all categories at once. Through the British tuner GFR, we were able to win the two titles in OK-Junior, the World Championship and the European Championship. This fits well with our ambition to play leading roles in all categories. In addition, TM Racing has never wanted to embark on the niche of single-make racing. For us, the real Competition is when several brands face each other directly on the track.