The launch of the new model arises from the need for the Italian company to have a product that complies with the new regulations imposed by the FIA which will gradually be applied at all levels of karting competitions. Starting from 2021, from the international FIA Karting races
The FIA 8870-2018 regulation (which we discussed in a dedicated article, in the “Technique” section) has revolutionized rib protectors for karting. The first regulation on the construction of these devices and the obligation on the part of drivers to only wear approved products for FIA Karting cups, championships and trophies from the beginning of 2021, immediately triggered the race for innovation by some manufacturers of rib protectors. Among these, Bengio HST (High Safety Tech) started the development of a new product in 2019, based on the consolidated experience in the production of its flagship model, the Bumper, which led to the launch of the new AB7 (recommended price to the public: 390 Euros + VAT). One of the biggest challenges encountered by Bengio was to design the construction of the rib protector based on the height/size ratio rather than the usual chest circumference size ratio. In fact, in addition to defining two new areas to be protected (chest and back) in addition to the ribs alone, the FIA regulations require that the minimum heights of the protections (front, side and rear) be respected in relation to the height of the driver. The process of creating the new rib protector therefore involved the development of 4 initial concepts, resulting in a multitude of prototypes that contributed to the completion of the final product. The key objective of the whole process was to offer the public a “universal” rib protector, in other words one capable of responding to the needs of every type of kart driver, from amateur to professional. This is why both drivers of international standing and hobbyists were involved in the design and testing phase of the project and, feedback after feedback, they contributed in a fundamental way to the definition of the AB7. This choice is derived from the fact that the new approved rib protectors are immediately mandatory for all international FIA competitions, but will soon become a fundamental component in any type of karting event.
As anticipated, the AB7 rib protector (available in the two fluorescent yellow and red colours of the photos) is the result of the evolution and adaptation of the know-how and technologies developed by Bengio with the development of the Bumper. The AB7, in line with the FIA regulatory requirements, has 4 rigid parts: two on the sides, one at the rear and the front chest protector. All parts are connected to each other by  non-removable rivets. The front protection is instead not tied to the right shell because it has an opening for wearing the rib protector. On the other side, however, the “harness” is permanently connected to the shell on the left. To do this, Bengio used the same adjustable strap that you also have on the right, but blocking it, with two  stoppers that do not allow it to be removed from the buckle, always keeping the “chest protector” connected to the rest of the rib protector, as requested by the FIA, which wanted to prevent the new generation rib protectors from being used without front protection. The decision to opt for composite materials, fibreglass and carbon, is proof of Bengio’s willingness to continue following the corporate way, enjoying a consolidated experience in regard to these materials. In particular, the “chest protector” is made of carbon fibre and glass fibre, while the side protections and the backrest are in glass fibre, a choice dictated by the need to make the various parts of the rib protector capable of passing the FIA blows resistance tests. In fact, the federation standards require that the energy transmitted to the body in the event of a blow does not exceed 1kN: the AB7 tests – the company declares – have obtained results up to 10 times better than the required standards. The total weight of the AB7, on the other hand, is around 1 kg, a weight which obviously varies by about 0.2 kg, depending on whether it is size XXL or XXS.
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