The new bumper system

Update: The CIK has suspended the use of the system

One of the big talks of the paddock this year is the new bumper system. It has been introduced by the CIK as a “zero-tolerance to pushing” measure, in a hope to eliminate avoidable collisions. It was tested last year in the Academy Trophy, and included in the regulations for all CIK categories this year in the CIK and WSK series.

How it works: once there is a contact with a certain speed difference, the bumper falls off its place, but remains on the kart. The driver has to either take a drive-through to repair the bumper, or receive a penalty at the end of the race.

The system has been met with mixed criticism. Most of the drivers affected are against the system, but not necessarily unjust. I have personally been a big supporter of the idea, not necessarily the implementation. What are the facts however?

There have been almost no first corner incidents in the races so far (until 8/03/2015). I was surprised to see no first corner incidents in any heat at all in La Conca. It’s a track where traditionally there have been very serious first corner accidents, often red flagging the race. So this for me was the moment that the idea won me.

There have been many investigations for front bumpers (over 80 in a day at times). This doesn’t necessarily prove that the system is bad, it proves however that the system is just a bandage on the wound. The target is not to find work-around on every problem we have, the target is to find the source of the problem and correct it. Combined with the kind of driving we saw at Lonato, where the threatened driver was driving the entire track on the defensive line knowing that the driver behind would risk pushing him, you understand that the real problem is driving standards and education.

Now, what’s the problem with a “bandage” like this? The implementation seems to be failing. Bumpers fall off just by drivers going over the high kerbs of La Conca and Adria, without any contact. In Adria we saw at least three drivers whose bumpers turned around and went under the chassis, resulting at the driver having no control over the kart. You see the photo, and also below is a video of the same thing happening in action:

The way the system reacted in this case is very unsafe. The case of the mini driver, he had absolutely no control over the kart which just slid all the straight line to stop at the barrier. In the case of the KF he was able to stop a bit earlier, but he was also lucky that the driver on his left realized what was happening and left him some space. Imagine what would happen in a KZ kart going over 150km/h with no control on his steering wheel or brakes.

Gentlemen the message is correct. No pushing, no crashing. However the implementation needs a lot of work.

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