This past weekend Ziming and I got to head over to Portugal and compete in the E20 Portugal Championship. Here’s our review of the E20.
In 1999-2000 that was the first time I saw a Rotax in person. It was at our local club meeting. It sat on the table and let’s just say the comments weren’t very nice. Look how big it is. How much it costs. Electric start. geez it’s ugly. 125cc. Radiator bolted to the engine. You can’t tune the carb. The list went on and on. No way it can drive 30 hours run time.
Well guess what. It was the evolution in karting engines that the sport needed and slowly the ICA & FA engines disappeared and we saw more and more Rotax engines on the grid. Customers (regular people who had normal jobs) loved the low maintenance and reliability that we have never seen in the sport. Top level karting just required too much time or a big budget to build and service the engines on a daily basis.
Fast forward to 2022 every large engine manufacture Iame, Vortex followed the Rotax concept to build engines similar in terms of performance and improved reliability.
Still the Rotax engine is the most reliable engine in the world. We are running engines in the 30-50 hour range. It can be driven hard, put away after a day in the rain and it will fire up a month later with no issues.
Now we’re at the next evolution. The Electric Kart. Rotax a few years ago developed their first electric kart. I remember watching it in like 2017 in Portugal at the Grand Finals. The stands were a little empty on this lunch time exhibition race. Fast forward to today the latest generation is called the Rotax E20 with a Junior class added.
This past weekend was my first experience with the E20 in Portugal and boy was I sure surprised. It has speed. It has power. It has consistency and most of all, I didn’t have to work on the power plant after each session. This was amazing. As a coach/tuner we spend so much time making sure the engines are prepped. With the electric Kart I was spending way more time coaching, looking at data. It really was nice. I really enjoyed it. I just plugged it in after a session and 40 minutes later it was ready to go. Watch my video to see more about it.
After coming home from a great weekend I posted a gallery and the video Ziming and I shot. Social media is where you get everyone’s opinions and people don’t hold back. “Stupid. Karting will never be the same. How long does it last? How much does it weigh? How much does it cost? Where can you charge it. Tracks don’t have power. “
The truth is all of these are valid points and questions but the reality is the evolution is coming. We either develop our sport and evolve or slowly get shut down by one government at a time from noise or pollution. Maybe some countries they will never have a problem, but in many developed nations karting is a problem. So this is my suggestion moving forward. Don’t hate, support it, encourage the development of it and in 10 years time we will have a product/series that is badass and when everyone sees all the benefits of the electric kart they will switch like herding cattle. The infrastructure will follow in place.
My electric RC car is badass, Teslas are badass, the Rotax E20 is badass. It has the instant power like a KZ. It does a burnout coming out of the pits. You have boost button to pass every 30 seconds. The kart never bogs.
At the end of the day it’s the costs that everyone always talks about. This is the big one. But actually it’s not. Maybe initially buying the electric power plant might be expensive. But to give some background on the the current E20 karts being driven they are on the 4th year battery packs and could easily continue. The motors will last 10 years.
Any competitive racer I know owns at least two engines and gets them serviced every year. After 5 years you will have spent the same amount on petrol/oil/chain/lubes/engines/spare parts and rebuilds. So in my opinion the cost is not going to be any more expensive. Resale value will also hold higher from my experience with electric because of the reliability.
As a whole, as a community we need to think about where we need to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. I know for myself my goal is to build a track. If I go to the government today and say I want to build a track it will be a hard NO. If I were to say it’s an electric track it would be completely different. We need to support evolution. Rotax was there in 1999 and they are still here in 2022. Thank you Rotax for leading the way and evolving the sport.