Karting – Filipino style

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MIKE POTENCIANO

MIKE POTENCIANO

The Petron Asian Karting Championship held last July 31, 2016 had come and gone with barely a blip on the motor sports’ community radar. It was sad to see how a truly international event had been relegated to local car club events in terms of fan attendance and driver participants.

I could still recall those times when we would had to do well in qualifying heats and the pre-final run just to get a good place in final heat, wherein the champion was taken. If you had some bad luck that day, you would be thrown into the 2nd Chance Heat with all the other drivers that didn’t make it to the main race.

It wasn’t a matter of cost or getting the proper race equipment either. We were able to compete against well-funded foreigners with Japanese and European tuners. What we lacked in engine power, we made up for in driving skills and dedication. So what happened to the sport that I love so much and what can we do to bring Karting back up again?

Good news


Let’s start with the good news. The Filipinos have the right build and stature to excel in karting. We don’t need the height and hefty weight to win. Our petite frame is just right and in fact, is a big advantage. There are also good tracks around that were established to help the enthusiasts since 1991. There are also very good Kart instructors to help the newbies.

The sport is also complemented by rental kart venues where people can share their passion for some fun around a kart track. Some people have also said that karting is already mainstream and is known by the majority of people that like cars.
With all of this positive groundwork, Our MP Turbo Team will now throw in the following to help bring back the golden age of karting.

Kart clinics

One of the best ways to bring back karting is to get new and old blood back into the sport. We will have to invite them to kart clinics and do it on a regular basis. At least once a month in different locations will be a good start. This will get the newbie’s’ feet wet without going far from their homes. This will entail a lot more work especially with safety barriers and a bigger team to marshal the event but I believe this will be worth it.

These non-permanent locations will not be ideal for cadet drivers like 12 years old and below, but the young professionals and veteran drivers will be happy with a new track that no one has previous knowledge of. This will remove the factor of drivers getting an extra advantage by practicing day in and day out on the same track. The good drivers will also shine in these tracks as the natural talent will be seen right away.

Affordable costs

As in any form of racing, the one who has the deeper pocket can almost be assured of winning the event. However, we should try to keep the costs down and make it affordable and available to a huge number of enthusiasts. We can find out the good drivers out there by making it easier for all to race.

One way of making it more affordable is to use a one-make, arrive and drive format. This means that all the karts have the same chassis, same engine and same tires that are taken care of by 1 team. There will be tight regulations as to what you can fix or change on the kart and there will be drawing of lots as to what engine you will be able to use for that day.

The karts for beginners will be rental karts with Honda 4-stroke engines. This will be the cheapest and most durable kart to start on. The next level will be direct-drive, Yamaha KT100S, 2-stroke engines on race karts, which are more powerful and lighter than the 4 stroke engines.

Finally, we have the engines from used or repossessed scooters that can be used for the high-end classes. These karts will be good stepping-stones to the higher, international-spec machines once they have made up their minds and want to take karting seriously.

Race series/venue

Permanent tracks like Carmona, Clark and Batangas are great and safe tracks for the fast machines. However, the fans have a hard time going all the way to these tracks to watch and cheer in these events.

We will have to organize events in commercial establishments, parking lots and high public traffic to make the sport visually appealing and showcase the exciting racing action that karting can offer. Having 20 karts all funneling into one turn and dicing for every little bit of space to overtake will make anyone stand on their feet during the whole race.

The race series will have classes for cadets, beginners, ladies, executives and veterans so it will have non-stop action right from the start. There can be special celebrity and media classes also to drum up the event. The best part is that the fans and participants will be treated like royalty during the event and make it worth their time to visit and join the series.

Media blitz

The Kart Series and its’ participants will not attain the recognition it deserves without the big media promotions tied to it. With the advent of social media and online sites, the kart series promotions are much easier and can be done in real time. Even the more acceptable television medium is becoming more flexible in terms of sports content, thus the proper time for karting to boom is now.

However, some organizers have the tendency to cut back on the promotions when there is little budget to go around. This is a double edged sword because the sponsors of the event will need this, including the drivers, to keep on participating in the series. The organizers should not take the easy road by cutting back on promotions or will bring back the sport to ground zero.

I hope we can all work for the karting’s revival because this is where we will draw our next crop of champions in other forms of racing. Will keep you all posted and sorry if we sound like a broken record, but it’s our passion to make karting no. 1 again. Godspeed to all!

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