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TKART magazine How To | The Expert Mechanic’s Kit In The Parc Fermé (And All The Ways To Use It)
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Jacopo Colombo
19 June 2023 • 17 min. read
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In karting, the expression "parc fermé" stands for a dedicated area of the circuit (which is set up during races), located near the track’s entry and exit routes, which the drivers go into at the start - or when they have to stop during or at the end - of an official track session (qualifying, heats, races, etc.). The area is where they meet up with their mechanics (one per driver), with whom they can discuss issues and make small last-minute set-up adjustments or any repairs that can be done quickly and don’t require a return to the tent. In order to carry out any type of work on the chassis, you need to have the right tools at hand to avoid wasting time which can be very costly when the session is about to start, is short or is about to finish. That’s why it’s essential to always have a small toolbox available that contains the most important tools, which allow you to avoid being caught unprepared. In this “How To | All the kart driver's tools for assistance out on the track” we’ve analysed which tools, in general, must always be present in a kart driver's kit and, not being able to bring all the equipment into parc fermé every time, which of them are the most commonly used and useful to have with you when you go from the tent to the track? We find out thanks to the support of Thomas Mardaga, a highly experienced professional mechanic, whom we spoke to during a round of the OK and OKJ category 2023 FIA Karting European Championship.

Editor's note
It’s important to underline that during race weekends no work can be performed on the chassis or engine by drivers or mechanics when they get to the parc fermé during or at the end of a qualifying session or a race. That’s because the regulations are that, once these sessions have been completed and decide the standings, the kart must remain in the exact same condition as when it stopped, allowing the race marshals to assess whether all the components conform with the technical regulations. This rule is called "parc fermé regime" and begins when the kart is lowered to the ground during the pre-grid phase and ends when the parc fermé opens at the end of the checks. This doesn’t mean that a damaged kart, which returns to the parc fermé during any official session, cannot be repaired to allow it to resume the session, albeit obviously under the watchful eye of the technical stewards, who ensure that the work carried out are only repairs and not modifications.

Highlighted in the photo, the parc fermé of the 7 Laghi Kart - Castelletto International Circuit in Branduzzo.
Pictured to the left is Thomas Mardaga, the professional mechanic who opened up his box of indispensable tools in the parc fermé. He worked in the Kosmic Kart team for 15 years. He then moved to Kart Republic for a short period of time. Since June 2023, he has been given responsibility for the technical part of AKM Motorsport by Kart Republic, the team founded by the driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli (and his father) in partnership with Dino Chiesa's Kart Republic. To the right, a mechanic working on tyre pressures in the parc fermé.
Our analysis of the professional mechanic's kit in the parc fermé starts from the basic element, i.e. what the kit contains: the toolbox. However, if you are under the impression that, at the highest levels of international karting, they use specific containers that can be purchased in some sort of specialist shop, you’ll have to think again. In fact, Thomas Mardaga's is an everyday box (dimensions 40 x 30 x 17 cm), which can be purchased for about 30 euros from any tool shop. However, what makes the difference is the degree to which the generic container is customised and its obsessive organization, made possible thanks to a system that sub-divides the available space into precise compartments. On the bottom of the box there is an aluminium divider (designed specifically by a colleague of Mardaga’s, Neil Mackerman of the Beyond Racing Team, to meet the needs of professional kart mechanics), which allows the orderly and desired distribution of different types of tools, such as an Allen key kit or screwdriver set. Furthermore, in order to optimise the available space, Thomas has a removable aluminium shelf that he uses mostly for electronic devices (such as the pressure gauge and stopwatch) and an additional plastic box, also equipped with dividers and compartments, which it is used to store small spare parts: these range from generic ones, such as screws and bolts, to more specific ones, such as sprockets. Lastly, to avoid wasting even just a single cubic centimetre of space available, special hooks have been placed on the inside of the lid of the box to house tools such as the spark plug wrench or everyday plastic ties. Therefore, each tool has a precise location, which allows Mardaga not to lose any time whatsoever in searching for the right tool, electronic device or spare part, for any need out on the track. Whatever the frequency with which you drive a kart, the advice of a professional mechanic such as Mardaga is to "organise your toolbox as precisely as possible, since, in addition to ensuring prompt intervention in any situation, it will help you assess both the condition of your tools and when it is necessary to go to your trusted hardware store to stock up on spare parts”.
Here are all the tools, and their sub-division, from Thomas Mardaga's toolbox: [1] a set of Allen keys; [2] screwdrivers of various sizes and head shapes; [3] wire cutters and clip pliers, [4] a set of spanners; [5] an electric screwdriver with various bits for drilling and screwing, as well as socket wrenches for unscrewing nuts of various sizes; [6] a spark plug wrench; [7] a spare spark plug; [8] plastic ties; [9] a pressure gauge and a tape measure; [10] some small spare parts.
The compartment dividers, made of aluminium, have been attached to the box using rivets that pierce the sides.
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