Going to the most famous and historical of circuits and covering all of its 20.832 km on a go-kart. Total ecstasy!
Let’s go back to 2012 when someone in the office had the brilliant idea: “What if we went to the Nurburgring to race karts?”. And it wasn’t meant as a joke, since the “Ring” is a temple for engine lovers, who every year arrive in thousands, any way they can: by car, motorcycle, bus, “Ring-Taxi”... What matters is getting there! No one has ever tried with a kart, though. So TKART director Yanek Sterzel and Marco Zamponi, our photographer and a great ‘Ring connoisseur, turn to Energy Corse’s Michele Panigada to organize history’s first kart stint at the ‘Ring. For those who do not know (!), the old Nurburgring, or Nordschleife, is a 20.832 km long track in Germany. Inaugurated in 1927, it said goodbye to competitive racing in ‘76 , after Niki Lauda’s tragic accident. That’s when F1 racing stopped and the venue gave open reign to tourist cars, manufacturer tests, and “crazy” endurance challenges, perhaps best expressed in the 24 hour format. Our project doesn’t make much sense: the Nurburgring’s 4 km straight alone is enough to kill the engine of a shifter kart, built to handle short distances. So TM Racing, Energy’s official engine provider, takes a standard KZ motor and replaces the piston with one of a different size: “less performing, but more reliable” – they assure us.
The Energy crew does the final adjustments
before our test driver jumps inRead more
The legendary “bar” at the Nurburgring. Thousands of race lovers visit the circuit every year. Yet nobody had every been on it with a kart!Read more
“THE COMPANY THAT MANAGES THE CIRCUIT GRANTS US EXCLUSIVE ACCESS FOR A DAY, 8:30 AM TO 2:00 PM, TO TRY OUR FEAT: DO A FULL LAP OF THE RING WITH A RACE KART!”
The Unmaksed Driver, aka Alberto Reoletti, the TKART tester entrusted with the feat of taking a race kart arund the ‘Ring for the first time in historyRead more
The man entrusted to carry out our ambitious feat is the Unmasked Driver, aka Alberto Reoletti, TKART’s test driver. However, since we need a standard of reference to evaluate the kart’s performance, we turn to Mythos Cars, Italy’s Caterham importer, and rally their participation with a Track Day R500: 263 hp for 516 kg and a power/weight ratio of 510 hp per ton (compared to 257 hp for a kart and 458 for a Ferrari 458 Italia) - translated, a power-house that goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.88 seconds! We leave Milan with a van packed to the brim, loaded with extra engines and Vega tires and a set of custom rims that Energy created specifically for the stint, with lug nuts both inside and outside to keep tires from slipping off at the high speeds we’re going to hit. Along the way, we stop at the Kerpen circuit to meet up with the Jedi Racing Team (Energy’s German importer) to “shakedown” the Energy Eclipse. The crew defines the right driving position, breaks in the vehicle, and fine tunes the carburetion, setting it a bit richer than normal. Then off we go to the ‘Ring. The night before the stint, the Unmasked Driver barely gets any sleep, obsessed with learning the track from the on-board footage of an M3: “For a motor head like me, getting to race at the Nordschleife is pure ecstasy! A dream come true! Besides, I never thought I’d be the first guy to ever tackle the ’Ring with a race kart!”
When mornig comes, the weather forecast is far from promising: “rain mixed with snow”. But at 8:30 sharp we’re on track anyways to get the kart ready. We make some height adjustments and also make the gear ratio much longer than usual. Alberto is pretty tense, despite his experience. Fortunately, the photo shoot helps him ease up a bit, since he gets to drive the Energy around the circuit just for the cameras: “I’d never taken a kart on a raceway; the bend radius is much wider than on karting tracks, so there’s more room for mistakes; this made me feel a little better,” he tells us. Noon rolls around, it’s finally time to get serious. The circuit is wet and very slippery: “It’s insane” - Alberto tells us after the first lap – “it’s snowing in some sections and raining in others. I even went through a rainbow. Incredible! When I first got going, I was worried about the clutch. I wondered how long it would last, since we’d already worn it down quite a bit between shakedown and photo shoot, considering the longer ratio and all. But everything was fine, aside from the bitter cold.” What about the circuit? “The uphill sections are wild; you have no idea what’s coming up next. Is it a right or a left turn? Wide or tight? Thankfully, the footage I watched last night gave me some sense of strategy, but forget being fast! Familiarity with the layout is crucial for speed.”
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