So I hadn’t long got over the craziness that was Rowrah in F100 before on the Tuesday I had a test at PFi with Simon Parker of PPR, testing the new CIK OK class which is our new Senior MSA British Championship. As much as I love the historics and that is where my heart really is karting wise, I still like to keep my hand in with the modern stuff! I’ve found it hard to settle to a modern class lately, I did 2 years of X30 which I really enjoyed until all the smashing off started happening, I’ve found the same with Super 4 KZ and so that’s why I’ve stopped racing that. I watched the OK class at Shenington when competing in the SuperPrix, it reminded me of F100 in some ways, the racing was clean and respectful and the things do absolutely fly.
It was a beautiful day for testing, we had to wait for the engine for the test to be delivered from Strawberry to PF. To my surprise we had 2 engines turn up for the test, 1 a complete spare. I must say I was very impressed with this, I didn’t expect that at all, I thought in the event of a seizure or some other catastrophe, that would be it, game over. So a big thank you to Strawberry for having that bit of thought. It is little things like that which go a long way I find.
So I was ready for my first go in the kart, we had some teething problems initially so I came straight in to see if we could sort them, it felt overly rich on the bottom end to me so we adjusted the carb slightly which helped a lot. The carb does seem mightily fiddly between running horribly and running well I did find. I went back out and could finally get a feel for the class. I must say it is unlike anything I’ve ever driven, it is a closer class to KZ in my opinion, the tyres are VERY different (VEGA White), you can’t just sort everything out before the corner, flick it in and drive off like you can in F100 or X30. You have to fully prepare the tyre and the kart for the corner, which seemed to be to me trying to keep it under load at all times, as soon as you didn’t that was it and you would unsettle the kart massively. Now I’m used to direct drive, I know it inside out doing TKM and F100 and absolutely love it. However to me, this couldn’t feel further from that feeling. The Vortex OK engine is quite boggy, out of both PF hairpins I’m waiting and waiting for the power, it kicks in quite smoothly, not all of a sudden like other classes and then you are at the next hairpin before you know it. I’m not a fan of power valves so I’m not sure if in part that is half the problem. The class is quick! I can’t say I enjoy driving it terribly though. It just feels a bit lacklustre on the pickup which to me is nothing signified by a direct drive kart. The decompression valve is alright, I can see why it is there but I think starting a DD kart with a bit of force to get over the compression is a wonderful thing. The other thing I found and I worked with Simon on this as I’m not used to it, the throttle pedal is a complete on/off switch. You cannot under any circumstances feather the throttle, you just massively unsettle the kart and become a bucking bronco. I was trying to be all F100/X30 with it and you just cannot do that. It took me a couple of sessions to get used to that round PF and I didn’t enjoy it. I like to feel what the kart is doing and use the pedal to load up or settle down the kart.
Unfortunately halfway through the day we got a massive downpour of rain which ruined the track for us otherwise I think we could have been on the dead or low 57’s. Kartmasters boys were doing 55 dead so not a million miles away. However I did get to use the Vega W5 I think it is and oh boy is that tyre ridiculous as well! It’s literally like driving on slicks in the wet and when you lock up under braking you can actually hear it skidding a long the surface almost like a slick! So the class is quite point and squirt, KZ-esque and lacks that fidelity and finesse of kart driving for me. I can wholeheartedly say I would rather race an X30 so I don’t think I will be racing in any OK races which is actually a shame for me as I did want to compete in the British Championship next year.
The name is genuinely a great way to sum it up, it’s OK.
A big thank you to Simon Parker of PPR (Mad Croc UK) www.madcrockarting.co.uk, for the faultless testing day. I’ve known Simon for many years now but this was the first time actually running with him, each time I worked with him and took his advice on board and put it into practice I went quicker. It was the first time I had actually worked with data too. The Mad Croc chassis was absolutely planted as well, very nicely engineered bit of kit I must say.
I have some onboard from the day below, this was when I was still struggling with it a bit. Through and over the bridge is where it is evident most.