The stage of the FIA Karting World Championship OK and OK-Junior, under the lights on the weekend of 16-18 September at the Circuito Internazionale Napoli in Sarno, hosted the Federation’s press conference dedicated to the two national categories that will make their debut in 2023: OK-N and OK-N Junior. After having received the approval from the FIA World Motor Sport Council on June 29 and having introduced the OK-J engine with a presentation dossier, the FIA has revealed further details with regard to the project that will represent the absolute novelty of the next karting season. CIK-FIA President Akbar Ebrahim, CIK-FIA Vice-President John Ryan, CIK-FIA Technical Delegate Karl Janda and ACI Sport Karting Commission President Raffaele Giammaria all expressed their thoughts.
All the speakers firstly underlined the goal of the new categories promoted by the Federation: facilitating the entry to international karting, providing the protagonists of the various national championships with a more accessible door, especially in economic terms. In fact, the OK-N classes will undertake the function of an intermediate step for drivers who are still not ready or cannot make the jump to the now consolidated OK and OK-Junior categories. Derived from the OK engines, in use on the international scene since 2016, the OK-N engines will be able to benefit from the technical knowledge acquired by professionals in the last seven years to immediately offer themselves as efficient and reliable products. Manufacturers of the calibre of IAME, Modena Engines, TM Racing and Vortex have already joined the OK-N project and presented the first prototypes (exhibited during Sarno’s press conference), confirming the interest aroused by the FIA’s initiative as well as the stakeholders’ will to invest in these new categories, which allude to the “back to the roots” slogan. Indeed, through the technical support of the market’s four main actors, the Federation brought the OK-N engine to life on July 7 with an official demonstration run on Franciacorta’s track, on the occasion of the last round of the FIA Karting European Championship OK and OK-Junior.
The OK-N class therefore applies for the role of universal category for the national championships, aiming at expanding karting and channelling the drivers towards the pinnacle of the sport thanks to a more defined and gradual path. Despite inheriting several characteristics from the OK and guaranteeing remarkable performance thanks to the approximately 35 hp available, the OK-N engine is a simplified version of the OK. Deprived of the exhaust valve and limited to 15,000 rpm instead of OK’s 16,000, the new engine will be able to benefit from this technical feature in terms of reliability. Furthermore, in order to expand the pool of potential drivers, the category’s minimum weight is fixed at 155 kg, hence distinguishing itself from OK’s 145 kg, while OK-N Junior will be logically characterised by a lower weight and further limitations to the engine. Always motivated by the declared intention of limiting costs, the sporting regulations suggested by the FIA envisage one engine, one chassis and one and half sets of Option tyres for a single race weekend. It will then be up to the various ASNs to decide whether or not to implement the two new categories along with the respective advice of the Federation. During Sarno’s press conference, Raffaele Giammaria highlighted ACI Sport’s commitment and officially announced the entry of OK-N as well as of OK-N junior in both the Italian ACI Karting Championship and the regional championships starting from 2023. In the vision of the Italian Karting Commission, these new classes will be able to represent the ideal gateway for the young drivers of the highly attended MINI Gr.3 before they definitively step up to the international categories.
Working with a view to involving as many national markets as possible, including those of the countries that have just started to approach karting, the FIA has also devised a FIA Karting World Cup OK-N. The first edition of this World Cup, which will be managed with the restricted regulation suggested by the Federation (one engine, one chassis, one and a half sets of tyres) and for which drivers will have to qualify (with the relative free entry fee) through national competitions, is planned for 2024, but could be brought forward to 2023 if the ASNs’ adhesions were sufficient to organise it. While waiting for further updates, the OK-N engines move closer to their first homologation, which will come into force on January 1, 2023, and will last six years in order to offer stability to a market where the various manufacturers will operate freely, despite remaining below a maximum retail price.
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