You’re never too old to drive a Lotus. You’re never too young either. Arguably the most fun, raw and inspirational racing machine to come out of the Lotus stable packs a mere 100cc.
With this year’s move into karting, Group Lotus becomes the only car manufacturer to have a presence at the entry level of motorsport, and that gives us a head-start when it comes to talent spotting.
Pretty much every racing driver you’ve ever heard of cut their teeth in karting, from Lotus legends Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell through to the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen.
The official Lotus Racing Karts team is competing in the CIK-FIA KF1 Karting World Championship. Another important task for Lotus Racing Karts will be CIK-FIA «U18» Karting World Championship. This new series is aimed at promoting drivers between 15 and 18-years-old through an FIA World Championship in which costs are rigorously limited, in particular thanks to the free allocation of engines and tyres to all participants.
Free? That’s not a word you hear often in this game, is it?
The CIK-FIA sanctions international championships in KF1, KF2, KF3, KZ1 and KZ2. They are regarded as the top level classes of karting and are also raced in national championships worldwide. The World Championships is decided here.
All are using the same water-cooled no-gearbox 125cc two-stroke engines with starter and clutch, each with different specifications (mufflers, air boxes, carburettor, rev limiter etc).
Most National Championships run under the rules of the CIK-FIA, although the most celebrated national level karting series are Spec series karts such as Rotax Max (a Touch-and-Go class), Vortex ROK, Easykart, IAME X30 or those using the Yamaha KT100 engine.
The shassis are made of steel tube. There is no suspension therfore chassis have to be flexible enough to work as a suspension and stiff enough not to break or give way on a turn. Kart chassis must be CIK-FIA approved and must have valid homologation issued by the governing body. Braking is achieved by a disk brake mounted on the rear axle. Front disk brakes are increasingly popular. Certain classes, however, do not allow them. Professionally raced karts typically weigh 75 to 79 kg complete (without driver).
Racing karts use small two-stroke engines, developed and built by dedicated manufacturers such as Vortex, TM, IAME, Pavesi and Rotax. The most popular categories worldwide are those using the Touch-and-Go (TAG) 125cc units. The recent 125cc KF1 engines are electronically limited at 15,000 rpm. These can develop about 40 hp for a single-cylinder 125cc unit. Most engines are water-cooled, though air-cooled engines previously dominated the sport.