UPDATE ON THE AKA’S FUTURE ENGINE PLATFORM
Over the past few years the Australian Karting Association (AKA) has been investigating options to provide a more even playing field for its members in terms of cost effective engines in the Cadet, Rookie, National and Clubman categories.
In May last year, two committees were formed, one to look at the Cadet and Rookie categories (Steve King, Craig Denton and Chris Dell) and another the National/Clubman categories (Gary Light, Kevin McKinnon and Drew Price).
During the investigation by the two committees, a number of solutions were proposed to the AKA. These included ‘grind to the line’, inserting a CNC liner to the KT100J engine, an aftermarket CNC cylinder for the KT100J and opening up the engine regulations.
Several KT100J and KT100S barrels were tested by two of Australia’s leading engine builders then “ground to the line”. The results showed minimal performance increase indicating that it is not just the port timings that affect an engines performance.
A prototype CNC cylinder for the KT100J engine was also carefully considered and tested during the course of due diligence.
After serious consideration it was decided that all of these proposals were more of a short-term “band aid” fix, rather than long-term solutions and were therefore decided against, with the AKA choosing to seek more meaningful solutions for the future.
Both committees have now finalised the specifications they are seeking in each of the categories. These specifications have been designed to maintain the style of racing currently enjoyed in the categories, and also to keep the costs of purchase and maintenance down.
The specifications for the engine to be used in the Cadet and Rookies categories will include:
- Small compact uncomplicated design
- CNC liner
- Fan Cooled
- Ability to be externally started
- Ability to be converted from Cadet spec to Rookie specifications by simply changing a carburretor and exhaust for approximately $400
The engine to be used in the National and Clubman categories will include:
- One basic engine will suit both National and Clubman with performance variation options to be explored with the chosen manufacturer which will provide the 2 required power outputs of approx 11-12hp for National and approx 17-18 hp for Clubman
- 100cc Aircooled with efficient cooling providing 50-80 degree lower running temperature than a Yamaha S
- Crankcase reed valve induction & diaphragm carburettor
- Clutch with consideration given to both electric & external starting
- Maximum RPM of 12,000 for National & 15,000 for Clubman
- Cylinder with cast iron liner and CNC machined ports to high tolerance level
- Minimum engine rebuild life in Clubman specification – Top end rebuild at 20 hours & Bottom end rebuild at 40 hours
- Maximum weight 23kg including electric start & all accessories
- The Goal = Take the technical/ manufacturing advances of recent years and utilise the design concept of the last of the 100cc high performance CIK Formula – A engines which produced 25hp. Change the specification to de-tune the engine significantly to provide a reliable, long life engine manufactured to high tolerance levels to ensure parity between all engines.
Both committees have completed the research and found a number of engines that either fit the above specifications, or that offer the potential to be configured to suit the AKA needs. This is more so the case with the Cadet/Rookie engine than the National/Clubman engine – as a result, the Cadet/Rookie engine will be an Open Tender while the National/Clubman Tender has seen companies Invited to Tender.
Of the companies invited to tender for the Clubman and National categories, the Yamaha Motor Company has been included. Despite previously advising that they did not have an engine that fitted the AKA’s future direction, the AKA recently received an indication that they are considering developing an engine within the specifications to enable them to place a tender and now be involved in the new engine process.
The Expression of Interest documents for the National and Clubman class have been distributed with the closing date for the Tender scheduled for 31 October 2012. This Expression of Interest document can be found by clicking here. As can be seen in this document, the AKA is treating this matter in a very serious and business-like manner.
The documents for the Cadet and Rookie engine will be made available in the very near future with the closing date to be advised at the same time.
The final decision on who the successful tenderers are will be determined by the National Karting Council.
Should a new engine were to be introduced to either category, they will not be in competition until June 2014 at the earliest – at which time they will be introduced at non-championship events only.
The current Yamaha and Comer engines would still be eligible for a number of years after the implementation date. Depending on the implementation process of new engines, it could be up to five, or more years following their introduction before a complete change is seen at all levels of Australian karting.
The most likely scenario would be that the engines will be introduced for competition during 2014 before being eligible for championships during 2015.
“The AKA is at times criticized for not dealing with major issues that stand to improve the sport significantly but in this case the AKA is choosing to thoroughly research and deal with a very important matter,” said AKA National President Craig Denton.
“Whilst there will be, and should be, concerns about the impact that the introduction of new engines could have to the sport. It is the AKA’s responsibility to look to the future while being mindful of the potential impact of implementing a new engine. However, it can not allow itself to be too frightened to work towards changes that will provide more potential for a better future for the sport.”