Interview: The CIK Chairman

With the Australian CIK Championship set to return in 2008 - using a completely new engine and series structure - people are asking questions and wanting to know what's going on. As yet there has been little official PR, so KartSportNews contacted CIK Chairman Graeme Hancock to answer some questions (interview conducted Nov 07).

KSN: The Parilla Reedster KF2 has been chosen as the control engine. When
are they expected in the country?

GH: Sometime in March.

We've heard gossip that the original engine balloting system (where a competitor randomly draws an engine at each meeting) has changed. Can you explain the system that is now likely to be used?
Each team will draw two engines at round one, one engine for each driver. They will then use that engine for the Series. The engines (which will be sealed) will be distributed on the Saturday morning prior to practice and will be collected at the end of the meeting on Sunday evening. If there is an engine blow up, there will be half a dozen spares ready to go. However, the Engine Service Manager will be onsite to make repairs, so a competitor might only need to use a spare engine for one race until their motor has been repaired and handed back.

Why the change from balloting every round?
We took the lead here from team feedback. A new ballot every round was our starting point but concerns arose that if they swapped them every round, a person at round 3 for example may pay the price for engine damage originally done to an engine at round 2 by someone else, which is hardly fair.

Has the Engine Serivice Manager been chosen yet?
No. An expression of interest is to be sent out this week.

We've heard that a tyre has already been selected. Is this true? If so, what is it and when can the teams obtain it for testing? If not, when can we expect to hear?
Yes, we have selected a tyre. It will be announced as soon as we inform the suppliers who were successful and those who weren’t.
It is an exclusive contract with the supplier which means it will not be possible to obtain the series race spec tyre outside of an actual race meeting. This is about saving costs. By not being able to buy the tyre, teams will not be able to test on it, even if they did go and buy their own engine. It is a 2008 spec tyre which is not available yet.

Reducing the costs of CIK racing is a key feature of this series. In addition to engine and tyres, what other control items are there likely to be?
Fuel, oil, air box, carby and exhaust are controlled as are engines and tyres. This is not all about cost nor about spoiling competitor's choice. We take the view that as the engines belong to the AKA, we need to protect the investment as best we can and controlling what goes into the engine is the best way of achieving this.  We are also specifying a spark plug but not a brand. The radiator has a minimum spec but is manufacturer free.

Isn’t the whole notion of control items against the spirit of CIK?
Yes, in one sense, it is, but CIK isn’t exactly open slather and neither is F1.  We have to keep in mind that in Europe, they get about 700 entries for KF1 and KF2. In Australia, we couldn’t get 70 and we have the bitter experience of the cost/promotion equation ultimately destroying CIK by 2005.  That got RV (Ralph van Doorn) thinking about getting the cost down and interest up but providing the same level of demands. A1 Grand Prix does this. Then we added removal of the elitist status it used to carry and its integration into club days as a means of club racers seeing CIK first hand and getting an understanding that it’s not elitist and out of their reach. Finally, we decided we can use our number one class as a showcase for the sport and attract new karters at the places where they join and race themselves.

How long before a series race calendar is published - and can you give more detail as to how it might be made up (number of rounds, locations, possible dates / date ranges)
We now have a tentative timetable but this is dependant on state’s calendars and clubs’ agreement to hosting us. This takes time, but we can say round one will not commence before the Easter National championships. Rounds at present are two in each of NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

2009 is likely to see a Junior class introduced. However, they might not run at the same meetings as the seniors?
The CIK class will be a showcase event of the weekend at normal club day race meetings. So the seniors will run at six locations during the year, and for marketing purposes, these are not necessarily metropolitan areas. When Juniors come on board it will allow us to visit, and thus market the sport and CIK racing, at 12 locations during the year. But this largely depends on where 2008 goes.

Will each team have to represent a unique chassis brand, or is it possible, for example, for a private team to run whatever chassis they like, even if it is already represented in the series?
Whether teams are representing manufacturers is a matter for the teams. There was a requirement that all be on different chassis. All 17 of the teams are dedicated to the nominated chassis brand which remains the brand for the season.

Must the karts be CIK homologated to compete in this CIK series?
They must be CIK homologated or AKA homologated or registered

Is it true we are having front brakes?  Wouldn't this raise costs?
Yes, it raises costs but the exotic materials like carbon fibre or ceramics aren’t allowed. The CIK rules say they are optional and we want to run our series as close to CIK rules as possible.  If you don’t want to fit them, don’t. CIK racing is a stepping stone to international karting and we must prepare our karters and their teams on as much a similar basis to what they are doing overseas as we can. Remember too that we are charged with getting Oceania off the ground again and if you didn’t have experience with front brakes, you’d look silly in an international field. CIK is not changing the rule for 2008 and has said the only change they’re considering for 2009 is to make them foot operated.