Karting Sport & History
Kart racing or karting is a variant of open-wheel motorsport with small, open, four-wheeled vehicles called karts, go-karts, or gearbox/shifter karts depending on the design. They are usually raced on scaled-down circuits. Karting is commonly perceived as the stepping stone to the higher ranks of motorsports.
Karts vary widely in speed and some (known as Superkarts) can reach speeds exceeding 260 kilometres per hour (160 mph), while amusement park go-karts intended for the general public may be limited to speeds of no more than 25 kilometres per hour (16 mph).
Kart racing is generally accepted as the most economic form of motorsport available on four wheels. As a free-time activity, it can be performed by almost anybody, and as a motorsport in itself, it is one of the sports regulated by FIA (under the name of CIK), permitting licensed racing for anyone from the age of 8 onward.
Typically, race formats are one of the following:
Sprint racing takes place on dedicated kart circuits resembling small road courses, with left and right turns. Tracks range from 1/4 mile (400 metres) to over 1 mile (1,600 metres) in length.
The sprint format is a series of short-duration races, normally for a small number of laps, that qualify for a final, with a variety of point scoring calculations to determine the event's overall winner. Typical duration does not normally exceed 15 minutes. Here, speed and successful passing is of the most importance. It normally occurs in the format of three qualifying heats and a final race for trophy positions.
The FIA championships, including the Karting World Championship, take place in this format.
Called "Enduro" racing in the USA, most WKA & IKF sanctioned events typically last 30 minutes (Sprint Enduro) or 45 minutes (Laydown Enduro) and are run continuous without pit stops. Enduro events are held on full-size road racing circuits that are usually between 1.5 & 4 miles in length.
As well as the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race for automobiles there is also a 24 hours event for karts which takes place at the kart circuit Alain Prost at Le Mans, France. This race has taken place since 1986 and its winners list include four times Champ Carchampion Sébastien Bourdais (in 1996).
The CIK-FIA sanctions international championships in KF1, KF2, KF3, KZ1, KZ2 and Superkart. These are regarded as the top level classes of karting and are also raced in national championships worldwide. The World Championship is decided here.
- KF1 (the top level), KF2, KF3, and KF4 (so-called "basic" category). All are using the same water-cooled no-gearbox 125 cc "long life" two-stroke engines with starter and clutch, each with different technical specifications (mufflers, air boxes, carburetor, rev limit etc.).
- KZ1 and KZ2, both 125 cc gearbox categories.
- Superkart, a 250 cc gearbox category.
Non CIK-FIA categories: The Kart World Championship (or KWC) as opposed to the FIA's 'Karting World Championship' uses 4-stroke rental karts and travels to a different country each year.