This is the 8th generation of the “Racer” chassis produced by Tony Kart, the largest and most successful manufacturer/team in karting.
The name of the chassis does not follow the traditional naming structure over the last ten years which has seen at least two chassis produced with similar initials.
You would expect the new chassis to be called the “Racer EVKK” But no, it's “Racer 401”. This could be the last time we see the Racer name, according to the internet rumour mill!
The Racer EVK KZ chassis never really performed at the high level expected of Tony Kart, where as the KF and Rotax versions were dominant around the world. This chassis was designed to address this issue and put Tony Kart back on top in the KZ class. The first competitive outing for the chassis was at the KZ World Championships, at the hands of Marco Ardigo and Flavio Camponeschi. The chassis outperformed the rest of the field through the entire weekend. The pair finished 1-2 overall in the KZ class. Not bad then.
This was back in October 2014 and since, Tony Kart have officially released the KF/Rotax chassis in November, followed by the KZ chassis in January 2015. We have finally got our hands on this chassis and hope to show you what your £3,900 buys you.
Is it any different to the EVK KZ chassis?
Yes it is. It's not just skin deep with the KZ chassis. The frame has undergone some significant changes in comparison with the EVK chassis. The main difference being the FRONT end geometry.
We had initially been expecting to see some changes at the rear of the kart but in fact the biggest change has taken place at the front. The chassis has a much shorter waist. The angle from the waist to the yokes is therefore less acute than the EVK. You can see how much shorter the waist is by looking at the floor tray, which is clearly designed to follow the contours of the Rotax/KF frame. Here are the two chassis stood next to each other, sorry we could not get any comparison photos as we were in a hurry!
Rotax/KF on top, KZ underneath. KZ shorter waist. Gap between floor tray and frame shows new profile of chassis.
The rest of the frame seems to follow the EVK, with higher bearing carrier mounts and seat stays to clear the chain. The next biggest change in our eyes has to be the brakes. These are entirely new and have been the main focus of Tony Kart in the marketing of the chassis. The front brakes have bigger twin pot callipers and the rear calliper is of a similar design but with a single large pot.
The last thing which is immediately obvious is the new bodywork to conform to the new regulations and for the new homologation period. The mouldings on the front nose cone which attach to the front bars are no longer part of the nose. They are now attached to the nose by 8 cap head bolts. This may enable you to repair a nose cone easier! The bodywork at the front looks a little.... Plump? I saw a photo of the front end with no stickers and nearly threw up. Horrible. But, in the flesh, it isn't as bad as it looks. I'm actually growing to like it.
The Rotax/KF version of the 401 does not appear to be much different to the EVK. It is basically an EVK with the new homologated bodywork.
What do you get?
Sometimes, it's not entirely clear what you will receive from a manufacturer when buying a new chassis. All you have to go by in this case is the badly translated description on the Tony Kart website.
Below, we have photographed every part which is included on the chassis, and inside the accompanying box. It's impossible to deny that this review took place in my living room. It was way too cold in the workshop and, if I'm honest, I wanted to sit and look at it while eating my dinner. I would like to take this moment to give my thanks to the wife for putting up with the constant noise of ratchet spanners and tools dropping onto the fibreglass seat. Thanks Laura!
The chassis comes with a giant box containing all the parts which are not fitted to the chassis. Monty, as you can see, was impressed by the size of this box...
This is exactly as the chassis arrives:
The bodywork and large items such as the side pod bars come loose inside the large cardboard box. Smaller items come in jiffy bags. Not the most protective of packages it has to be said. The rear hubs were just plonked in a bag free to bang against each other. Nothing will get damaged enough to be useless, but it would be nice to have some of the more expensive parts packaged a little better.The steering wheel is a good example as they are easily damaged but come in a plastic bag.
The kart comes with a few parts already attached to the frame and the brakes are complete and filled with DOT5.1 fluid. Some areas of the kart are protected with grease to protect against corrosion.
I was a little unsure of what I may need to buy to complete the build so here is a list of things you will need to complete the chassis. Minus an engine and ancillaries.
Exhaust mounts (cradles +bars)
Axle pump pulley
In-line temp sensor
Data logger mount
Seat spacers (large for under front of seat)
Don't forget to add the price of these to the chassis if you are thinking of buying new but are not sure if you can afford it. Most of these items are obvious things that would not come with the chassis but it's still worth noting.
Now that's all out of the way, lets have a closer look at the chassis and some of the components.
The kart went together without too much hassle. The sticker pack was difficult to apply, mainly because of the new contours on the bodywork which require a certain technique to successfully apply the stickers. Once you have done them once, it will be much easier the next time around. The instructions are basic, but give you an idea of what to do and how to overlap the nose cone stickers.
For a first attempt I was reasonably happy with my efforts, but there are a few bubbles and ripples here and there.
The radiator (New-Line RS) will not bolt directly onto the chassis as the two holes provided on the chassis are much larger than the M8 hole in the radiator mount. I need to find a rubber grommet to step down the hole size before I can attach the mount.
All the rest of the kart went together as expected with no real issues. There was a small burr on the inside of the gear linkage lever which meant it would not push onto the gear lever easily. I had to clean these out with a file for it to fit smoothly.
The new bodywork will not fit the old side pod bars properly as far as i can tell.
The new bars have a larger flat portion than the older bars.
The new M6 bodywork is much heavier and much stiffer than the M4 bodywork from the previous generations of chassis. It will be interesting to see how this holds up when contact occurs.
The old nose used to dent with the slightest tap and used plastic rivets to hold the mounting gear to the main molding of the nose. This new nose has separate mounting gear so there is more scope for rescuing the nose if it ever gets ripped off the kart.
The front bars are the same as the old ones.
The brakes use DOT 5.1 fluid as opposed to DOT 5 in the old EVK system (we are unsure of what fluid the EVK KZ chassis used..)
You cannot buy an angled steering boss for the KZ chassis. An angled wedge must be used.
There is still no standard fixing for an airbox. The included hole on the chassis is too far back to use an airbox cradle so you will end up making one up out of random parts. Even the chassis on the Tony Kart website has a home made bracket clamped to the side pod bar. If somebody could recommend us a good solution to using a NOX airbox then this would be appreciated. However, we still think Tony Kart should provide some mounting hardware at least.
It's a similar story with exhaust silencer brackets. There is a mounting point affixed to the chassis but you will have to buy more parts to connect these to the cradles.
We will update this review once the kart has seen the track!
There is nothing revolutionary about Tony Kart's latest offering but there are changes which should have a direct impact on track. The new frame design is the biggest change and the new brake design looks to be a big improvement.
The recent success at the World Championships seems to suggest that Tony Kart have sorted out the issues which plagued the EVK.
The new look of the bodywork is certainly a talking point with mixed opinions. We get the feeling that designing a custom team sticker kit to make the most of the contours of the nose cone will be more challenging than the M4 bodywork. The nassau panel is very large and quite flat, again, we think its going to be difficult to design a suitable scheme to make the bodywork look desirable. Here is KR Sport's (Matt Hirst) effort with the new bodywork. A good effort but we don't think it looks as good as the M4 nassau panel.
- Proven performance .
- Established spares availability.
- Quality components (design).
- Very good brakes.
- Easy to work on.
- Slightly more expensive than competition.
- Items missing which are included with other brands .
***We will have more images and further review of the kart in the coming weeks. Please comment below if there is anything in particular you would like us to cover.***