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26 January

On Track - Hyper MAX Racer

In retrospect, it was foolish of me to accept Jon and Dean Crooke’s invitation to have a steer of their HyperMAX Racer. I was happy enough to be in ‘retirement’ - still involved in the sport via this KartSportNews website but now from the so-called friendlier side of the fence...

Unfortunately for me, this thing was too much fun to drive; the feel of the road, the tyres loading up, biting, sliding, feed in the lock, squeeze on the power – I don’t know why I’ve stayed away for so long.

hyper max racer kart track test winton
Above: KartSportNews editor Mark Wicks about to test the Hyper MAX Racer at Winton.

The Machine:
The Rotax class in Superkarting is almost identical to the Sprint kart version. In fact, a gearing change and addition of rear safety light is pretty much all that’s required to complete the cross over.

A typical sprint kart is still a competitive package, but the HyperMAX Racer has moved the goal posts.

The frame itself is built by Phoenix with a fully adjustable front end and wheelbase. It’s then delivered to the Crooke’s Hyper workshop as a rolling chassis but without seat, steering wheel or bodywork. And that’s where Hyper go to work, bolting on their go-fast bits to turn out what many consider the most attractive looking Superkart on the grid.

The Hyper seat and flip-up steering wheel allow the driver to sit much lower compared to a sprint kart. This, combined with the nose fairing, results in a frontal area reduction of around 20%. The steering geometry is also significantly changed to suit the longer and faster corners found on race car tracks.

hyper max racer kart track test winton
Above: The stub axle fixes to the chassis via spherical rod-ends that allow camber/KPI adjstment. The chrome plated bracket rotates to adjust caster.

On Track:
Preparing to drive the HyperMAX Racer was just like getting ready for a Formula Ford; it started with a seat pouring. Yep, most of the Hyper drivers use a foam seat insert so they have a snug and comfy fit – unheard of in sprint karting.

The steering actuation is rather weird. Because of the heavily angled steering wheel, it required more a pushing action than a rotational one to get the wheels to turn. While it looked strange in the pits, on track it was brilliant; very light to steer and virtually no fatigue on the wrists. The kart was incredibly crisp on initial turn-in, just a breath of lock and it fired down to the apex.

hyper max racer kart track test winton
Above: This is about all the steering lock you will need to get around a right-hander - and a sharp one at that! Note the almost horizontal radiator tucked down between the seat and the sidepod.

After a few lockups and slides to re-calibrate the brain-to-left-foot link, the kart pulled up nice and square. The higher speeds mean longer braking distances compared to sprint karts, but even the hard stops at Winton were much shorter than anything else on the track that day – I nearly wiped out a dude on a race bike (man, aren’t they slow mid corner!) and a family of ducks (grey ducks waddling across a grey track – leave the rest to you).

Old turn 2 is flat. Well, it’s going to be, I just didn’t want to tear the arse out of the seat on that huge exit kerb! Once you realise how well the kart will stick, the Sweeper is totally flat, but it’s thread-the-eye-of-a-needle stuff at maximum G. Just a fraction too fast on the steering input and you’re going for opposite lock in a flash.

With no gearbox, the tight Gum Tree section is all about keeping the momentum up and is very much like sprint karting, but with a bigger time loss if you get sideways. And isn’t it amazing how rough some parts of Winton have become? The karts are totally airborne on the approach to the Motorsport News esses before a hint of brake and back in the gas, hard on it up the hill for another lap.

Wanna Race?
The HyperMAX Racer competes in the 125cc Non-Gearbox class of Superkarting. There are both light and heavy weight senior divisions plus provision for juniors from 12 years of age.
Superkarting allows karters to go racing on full size race car circuits without having the complexities and expense of a race car. Speed wise, Superkarts eclipse all but the top echelons of the motor racing world. At Winton the MAXs do a lap time half way between Porsche Cup and Commodore Cup and on the short circuit are only bettered by high performance open wheelers and sports cars. The 250cc karts are often the fastest vehicles at a race meeting. Rotax class karts range from $4000 (second hand) to around $8500 new. You’ll get a CAMS Superkart licence and a club membership for under $500.

Further details about Superkarting and the HyperMAX Racer are on and respectively.

hyper max racer kart track test winton
Above: Regular driver Dean Crooke at speed.

(a condensed version of this article appeared in Motorsport News magazine, issue #252)

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