Formula TKM is a low-cost British based karting category raced at club and national championships around the UK. It uses 100cc/115cc 2-stroke TKM engines and drivers are restricted to the use of single type of tyre. A second class, called TKM 4-Stroke, run on performance oriented 200cc 4-stroke engines was introduced into the category in the early 2000s.
The TKM karting class was created in 1989 by the British based kart manufacturer, Tal-Ko. The company owner Alan Turney started the class with the ambition of keeping the large costs of kart racing down while maintaining a level of competitive and equal racing. To maintain the lower prices, only British registered homologated chassis were allowed, along with a Tal-Ko designed engine and hard compound tyres by Maxxis.
The original uptake of the class was successful and with the lower costs involved, the class soared in popularity through the 90s, becoming the UK's most popular karting formula. The TKM Festivals of the late nineties saw over 100 entrants in both senior and junior classes and from this boom the class boasts several current Formula 1 drivers amongst its former racers. However, since the rise of the Rotax Max formula in the UK from the early 2000s and the impact of the recession grid sizes have dropped dramatically.
Through second half of the 2000s Tal-Ko introduced a range of new rules for the 2-stroke class in regards to tyres, chassis and engine regulations. WIth these new rules the class became more relevant and so the numbers of entrants stabilised, despite a mixed set of reactions from people in the sport. It still offers a large field in the Super 1 National Kart Championships and at club circuits in the UK. Most prevalently the class still finds healthy grids at Shenington Kart Club, Rissington Kart Club and Glan y Gors.
In this period Tal-Ko also introduced a 4-stroke class, which ran on 200cc 4-stoke engines. The class was dropped from the Super 1 National Kart Championships in 2011 after a reshuffle in the series. The series has never been as popular or successful as the 2-stroke TKM class.
- Junior TKM: For 11-16 year olds. Runs on 100cc TKM BT82 with a restrictor on the carburettor to give consistent power to weight ratios.
- Junior TKM Intermediate: A class ran between 1999 and 2007 for 13-16 year olds. It was for the heavier Junior drivers who raced with a higher minimum-weight but a larger carburettor restrictor.
- TKM Extreme: For those aged 16+, this class runs on 115cc TKM BT82 engines with no restrictor.
- TKM 4-Stroke Junior: Runs on a 4-stroke 200cc engine with a restrictor on the carburettor to control speeds.
- TKM 4-Stroke Senior: Runs on a 4-stroke 200cc engine with no restrictor.
TKM acquired a reputation for close and competitive racing, notably for the extremely large grid entrants. The annual TKM Festival, held at a range of circuits, could once attract over 100 entrants for each class at the event. This is unparalleled for kart racing in the UK during recent history. Even with the dip in grid numbers, the class is often cited as a purer form of kart racing owing to the relative simplicity of the racing and the equal playing field.
Historically it was decided by the organisers that only TKM homologated, British made, chassis should be used for the class. This was opened up, however, to try to compete with the image of the Rotax Max class. MSA homologated chassis from across Europe have been permitted since 2010.
The class uses a fixed gear, 2-stroke TKM BT82 engine. It is currently 100cc for Junior level and 115cc for the Senior category. Tuning of the engines is limited in order to keep costs down. In 2008 Tal-Ko introduced TAG engines, meaning one can start the kart by the push of a button. The engine can pull up to around 75 mph.
Maxxis produced tyres have been used in the class since its advent. The class organisers restricts the use to a single 'wet' and 'dry' tyre for the class, with the idea of creating a level performance level and removing the costs of requiring new tyres for each race weekend.
The 'new age' dry weather tyre which is currently used was chosen for its relatively hard compound, promoting durability and removing the need to replace them as often. In 2010 a new tyre was introduced which was designed to improve performance.
Historically a hard compound 'wet' tyre was used but to compete with Rotax Max in performance levels, a softer, stickier tyre was introduced into the formula for the 2005 season.
While TKM has never been the highest level junior karting category, it has continually been the breeding ground for many current and former notable motorsport figures.
- 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button was the Junior TKM champion in 1992.
- 2008 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton dabbled in the Junior TKM championship in the mid 90s.
- Current Formula 1 test driver Gary Paffett won the Junior TKM championship in 1995.
- Formula Super Aguri and BAR driver Anthony Davidson enjoyed success in TKM in the 90s before moving into European karting.
- Current DTM drivers Oliver Jarvis and Jamie Green raced in the 1996 Junior TKM super 1 series.
- James Nash, a current British Touring Car Championship driver and race winner at Rockingham in September 2011. He raced both Junior and Senior TKM in the early 2000s. He came 2nd in TKM Extreme in 2004.
- Current British Touring Car Championship racer Tom Onslow-Cole progressed in the Junior categories in the early 2000s, finishing 8th in Junior TKM 2001.
- 2010 GP2 6th place finisher Oliver Turvey finished 6th in Junior TKM in 2001.
List of Class Champions
FORMULA TKM SUPER 1 CHAMPIONS
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FORMULA JUNIOR TKM SUPER 1 CHAMPIONS