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DISPELLINGTHE ROTAXMAX MYTHS

Rotaxisfarandawaythemost popularkartingengineinthe world.BRPRotax,the manufacturer,recentlypassedthe 50,000markfortheRotaxMax seriesofenginesandhasproduced inexcessof6,000,000engines acrossitsentireenginerange. Whyaretheseenginessopopular andwhyaretheresomanymyths surroundingRotaxenginesinAustralia? ThefollowingseriesofarticleswithtechnicalmaterialsourceddirectlyfromBRPRotaxin Austria(andtestedinAustralia)willhopefullydispelthemythsandprovideinterestingand usefultechnicalinformationtobenefitcurrentandpotentialRotaxowners. RPRotaxisamorethan80 yearoldcompanyandthe Austrianaffiliateof BombardierRecreational ProductsInc.(BRP).Itisaleader inthedevelopmentand productionofinnovative2and 4strokehighperformance RotaxenginesforBRPproducts (SkiDooandLynx snowmobiles,SeaDoo watercraftandsportboats,Can Amquadsandroadsters)as wellasformotorcycles,karts, ultralightandlightaircraft.Over thepast50years,thecompany hasdevelopedmorethan350 enginemodelsforrecreational productsandhasproducedmore thansixmillionengines.

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RotaxBRPinvolvementinkartingstartedinthe1980'swhenthecompanyproducedhigh performanceRotax100ccengines. In1988RotaxenginestooknineofthetoptenpositionsintheCIKWorldKarting Championship Severaloftoday'sF1driversincludingKimiRaikkonen,JensonButton,GiorgioPantano, AnthonyDavidsonandRobertKubicastartedtheirracingcareersinkarts,usingRotax engines.Locally,kartinglegendsTroyHuntandMarkWinterbottom(tonameonlytwo) havecampaignedRotaxengines. BasedonthisexperienceRotaxintroducedtheRotax125MAXin1997,withtheRotax125 JuniorMAXfollowingin2001. In2002Rotaxstoppedproducingitsrangeof100ccenginestoconcentrateontheRotax MAXrangeofproducts.Thatsameyear,Rotaxlaunchedthe125MAXDD2enginewith directdrive(nochain)thatiscurrentlyhomologatedfortheOpenclassinAustralia. In1999,Rotaxstarteditsownracingseries,theROTAXMAXCHALLENGE,onanationallevel inEurope.In2000,thefirstROTAXMAXCHALLENGEGRAND FINALSwaslaunchedandisnowthelargestinternational motorsportseriesintheworld.In2007216Driverdrivers competedattheGRANDFINALSatAlAin/UAE,includingsix Australians. In2008theRotaxMaxChallengeGrandFinalswillbeheldat LaConcainItaly,againfiveluckyAustraliankarterswilltake part. herearenumerousenginetypesavailabletojuniorandseniorkartersinAustralia fromtheoldtrustedYamahaKT100JandKT100Stocurrentdevelopmenthigh performance125ccmotorssuchasRotaxMAXandLeopard. Whatallofthesemotorshaveincommonisthattheyaretwostrokes,butthatiswherethe similaritiesend.TheRotaxMAXisa28horsepowerenginethatonlyrevsto14,000rpmand yetweregularlyhearstoriesofYamahaKT100Srevvingto16,000plusandLeopardstoover 17,000. WhyaretheRotaxenginesdifferent?Andhowaretheyabletoprovidesuchperformance whilstmaintainingalongerservicelifeoverotherengines. irstlymostRotaxengineshaveapowervalve.Thepowervalveisavalvethatopens onceenoughpressurehasbuiltupintheexhaustsystem.Whatthismeansisthat RotaxMAXengineseffectivelyhavetwoexhaustporttimings.Whenthevalveis closedtheexhaustportislowertogivemaximumbottomendpower,whentheexhaust portopenstheportistheneffectivelyhighertogivemaximummidrangeandtopend

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power.Thisisaningeniouswaytohavethebestofbothworldsintermsofbottomend punchandthentopendsuperioritywithintheoneengine. econdlytheRotaxenginehasatunedexhaustpipe.Thepipeisexpresslydesignedand testedtogivethecorrectbackpressuretodivertasmuchunburntexhaustgasas possiblebackintotheenginetomaximisepotentialhorsepower.ThatiswhytheRotax enginehasauniqueexhaustsystemthatisnotadjustablebytheuserintermsoflengthlike mostotherpipes.ThetunedpipeworksmostefficientlyataparticularRPMsoRotaxhas anotherfeaturedesignedtomaximisethebenefitofthetunedexhaustsystemadigital ignition. hedigitalignitionadjuststheignitiontimingoftheengineastheRPMincreasesto keeptheoptimumperformanceleveloftheenginesynchronisedwiththetuned exhaustsystem.WhenhighRPMisachievedtheignitionchangesdynamicallyto automaticallylimittheRPMto14,000.ThisfeaturesavesenginewearandastheRotax enginesdonotproduceusablehorsepowerabove13,000RPMhaspracticalapplicationsas well. OverallthesefeaturesareuniquetoRotaxKartEnginesandmakeforanenginethat produceshorsepowerandlaptimesequivalenttootherhighperformance125ccengines andyetusesfarlessRPMs.RememberitistheRPMsthatcostmoneyviamorefrequent enginerebuilds. otaxenginesalsorun40to1fueltooilratios.Allothermainstreamkartenginesrun 16or20to1fueltooilratios.Afairpercentageoftheparticulatematterdispelledby anengine(i.e.thepollutants)isduetotheamountofoilused.TheRotaxisthemost environmentallyfriendlytwostrokekartengineinuseinAustraliatoday,afactthatis becomingmoreimportantasdaysgoon. SettingupyourRotax Therehavebeenmany mythssurroundingsetupof Rotaxenginesoverthe yearsinAustraliaandwhilst therearemanyusefultools available,competitivesetup ofaRotaxisbestperformed withsomeunderstandingof howtheengineworks.

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TIP#1 ThepowervalveMUSTcompletelyclose. Inorderforthetwostageexhausttimingtobeeffectivethepowervalvemustclose completely.Itissimpletocheck.Removethepowervalvecoverandpressthebellows,you shouldhearaslightclickasthevalvehitsthemetalstops.Ifthisdoesnothappen,unscrew theexhaustvalvepistontogetherwiththebellowaquarterturnandcheckagain.Repeat theprocedureuntilyoucanheartheslightclick. Youcanseefromthediagrambelowthefunctionthatthepowervalveperforms.

Itisclearfromthediagramthatifthepowervalveisnotfullyclosedatlow(below7.500) RPM,theexhaustvalvedonotsealwiththepiston,resultinginlackofbottompower.

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Asyoucanseefromthediagramabove,thepowervalvehasadirectimpactontheoverall performanceofthetunedRotaxsystem.Ifthepowervalveopenstooearlyortoolate enginehorsepowerproductionwilldropoff.Asyoucanseefromthegraph,theoptimal powervalveopeningsettingis7,500rpm. Settingthepowervalvecorrectlyisverysimpleandisaneasysteptoensuringcompetitive Rotaxracing. TIP#2 CarburettorandJetting UnlikemostothertwostrokeenginesincommonuseinAustraliatheRotaxMAXseriesof enginesuseaslidecarburettor.Thesecarbysdonothaveexternallyadjustablejets; ratherRotaxengineshaveinternaljets.Thosefamiliarwithmotorcycleengineswillbe familiarwiththisconcept. Manynewcomerstokartingusingenginesthatrequirethedrivertotunethecarburettor findoutthehardwaythatasmallmistaketuningincanresultinengineseizure. ThemainjetintheDell'ortocarburettors Main Jet iseasilyaccessibleviathelargebolton thebottom(asyoucanseefromthe pictureright).Thejetselectedisbased uponanumberoffactors,keepingin mindthatyoucannotchangethejet whenyouareonthetrack.Thesmaller thejetnumbertheleanertheengine willrun.ThestandardjetinnewerRotax enginesis165withjetsareavailablein incrementsfrom150to185. Thereareafewschoolsofthoughtwith regardtojetselection.Thefirstisuseofaweatherstation(readilyavailablefrom electronicsstoresforaround$100)andajetselectionchart(whichisavailableasafree downloadfromtheIKDwebsiteatwww.internationalkarting.com).Thetwomostimportant factorsarebarometricpressureandtemperature. Onceyouhavethepressureandtemperature,thejetchartwillprovidethecorrectjetto insert.Usuallyyouselectajetfortheconditionsandyouwillnotneedtochangeitduring themeeting,unlesstemperatureorpressuredramaticallychanges(i.e.itrains). Thesecondschoolofthoughtistostartwiththestandardjetandtrysuccessivelyleanerjets untiltheenginepopsandthengobackonejetricher(assumingthattheselectedjetwas nottooleantobeginwith!).

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Asyoucanseefromthegraphabove,correctjettinghasadirectimpactuponperformance. Intheexamplethecorrectjetforthedaywasa165. The170and175jets(providingarichermixture)providesimilarpowerintherevrangeup to11,000butresultinnoticeabledropoffthereafterwhencomparedtothe165jet. Thisisnottosaythatthe165jetshouldbeusedinallconditionsratherintheexample aboveitwasthecorrectjettoselect. Anotherareathatrequiressomeattentionisplacementofthecarburettoroverflowbottles. Iftheseareplacedhigherthanthecarburettororinthedirectflowofairpressure differentialscandevelopthatcancauseissuessuchaspopping.Thebestmechanismisto placetheoverflowcontainersbelowthecarburettor,perhapscabletiedtoaseatsupport.

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TIP#3 SparkPlugGap Whenreplacingsparkplugsmostkarterstendtoinstallnewsparkplugswithoutsettingor checkingthepluggap.Thegapinthesparkplugisveryimportant.Rotaxhaveperformed manytestsandfoundthat0.45mmgapprovidesthebestoverallperformancefromthe engine.Whensettothisgaptheenginewillprovidemaximummidrangehorsepowerand theenginewillbelesssensitivetoatmosphericconditions(i.e.willbeeasiertotune).

Thegapcanbesetwithaninexpensivesetoffeelergauges,mostautopartsstoresorkart shopscansupplytheseforonlyafewdollars. Thesmallerpluggapmakesiteasierfortheplugtoignitethefuel,therebyallowinga smallerjettoberun.Rememberingthattheleanermainjetincreasestopendpower withoutmucheffectonbottomendperformance.

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TIP#4 Gearing ThedigitalignitionsystemoftheRotax125MAXenginechangestheignitiontimingat 14.000RPMsuchthattheperformanceoftheengineisdropssignificantly.Operationofthe engineonthetrack(underload)theenginewillnotrevhigherthanapproximately14,100 RPM.Thisisonereasontheengineshavesuchlongenginelifecomparedtoother125cc engines. Between8,000and12,000RPMtheRotax125MAXengineprovidesanextraordinaryhigh output.Obviouslygearselectionistrackdependant;howeveryoushouldgearyourkartto spendasmuchtimeinthatrange.

Thetopcurveinthediagramaboverepresentsthepowercurveoftheengineunderload. WhenselectingRatio1whichisthelowerofthetworearsprocketstheengineperforms peakefficiency,whenselectingRatio2theenginespendstoomuchtimeinthe12,000to 14,000revrangewhenlesshorsepowerisdeveloped. TIP#5 Exhaust TheexhaustsystemprovidedwithRotaxenginesisuniqueinthatitistuned.Thisiswhyyou cannotchangethelengthoftheexhaustonaRotax,andinfactitwouldbeofnobenefitto youifyoucould.

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OneitemofimpactonoverallperformancethatismostoverlookedbyRotaxcompetitorsis thatoftheexhaustmatting.Thismattingcoverstheexhauststingerandisusedtolower noiselevels.Duetotheheatgeneratedbytheexhaustthismattingburnsanddegradesover timeattheendclosertotheengine(markedasturbulenceinthediagram). Whenthiserosionofthematerialreachesacertainlevelitcausesturbulenceintheexhaust streamthatchangesthenatureofthetunedsystemwhichinturndropstheperformanceof engine.Thisisusuallymostreadilyidentifiedbytheenginerunningleanerwiththe associatedpoppingnoises.

Themattingshouldbecheckedonaregularbasis.Aruleofthumbisaftereverythreerace meetings. Thesolutiontothisissimple,relacethematting.ThisisconsumableitemandmostRotax stockistswillhaveitreadilyavailableandcanassistwiththereplacementifnecessary. TIP#6 Battery OneoftheproblemsRotaxusersmayencounterisenginepopping.Thiscanbecausedbya numberoffactorsashasbeendiscussedbutbyfarthemostcommonreasonisduetolow batteryvoltage. TheRotaxelectricalsystemisalossysystem.Thismeansthatthereisnoonboard mechanismtochargethebattery.Whilstthismightseemlikeafeaturethepackageshould have,thiswasaconsidereddesignchoicebyRotaxengineers.Themorepartsthatare includedinapackagethegreaterthelikelihoodoffailure.Akeycomponentofthedesignof theRotaxseriesofengineshasalwaysbeenreliability.

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OneofthepreraceproceduresforeveryRotaxownershouldbetochargethebatteryprior toeveryracemeetingandifyouareable,tricklechargethebatteryduringthemeetingto ensuremaximumcharge.Afullychargedbatterywillprovidesufficientvoltagetolastan entiredaywithoutcausinganyproblems. TIP#7 Dontconfuseaslighthesitationoncornerexitwithacarburettorproblem. Asadriverbrakesforacornerthepressureinthetunedexhaustsystemdropsoffcausing thepowervalvetoclose.Thismayresultisaslightdelaywhenthrottleisappliedagain.This delayisduetothepressurebuildingupagainintheexhaustsystemuntilitissufficientto reopenthepowervalve. Anotherreasonforpotentiallagisdriverthrottleapplication.Thethrottleshouldbeslowly fedinoncornerexit.Mostclubmandriverstendtogofullnoiseattheexitofacorner;this isnotthecorrecttechniqueforaRotaxdriver.Thebestmethodistoeasethethrottleon fromtheexitofthecorner. TIP#8 MOJOTyres AnintegralpartoftheoverallRotaxracepackageistheMOJOD2tyres.Thesetyresarethe sameasisusedattheROTAXMAXCHALLENGEGRANDFINALSeachyearandbymost countriesaroundtheworldfortheRotaxclasses TheMOJOD2tyreoffersgoodlevelsofgripwhilstmaintainingexcellentdurability.When operatedinaccordancewiththerecommendedpressures,karterscanexpectexceptional lifefromthetyre. ThepressurerecommendedbyRotaxforusewiththistyreis8psi+/1psi.Obviouslythisis onlyarecommendationandshouldbetestedtolocaltrackandenvironmentalconditions. RotaxHeavydriversinparticularregularlyrun12psihigherpressures. JuniorMax TheRotax125JuniorMAXengineisfundamentallythesameasthe125MAXengine.The onlyexceptionisthattheJuniorMAXenginedoesnothaveapowervalve. WiththeexceptionofTIP#1andTIP#8,alloftheinformationpresentedinthesearticles appliesequallytoJuniorMAXcompetitors.

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Summary Rotaxracingofferskarterstheopportunitytocompeteinaclassthatisrunalloverthe world.Theenginesarefast,competitiveandyetoffersimplicityofuseandmaintenance. Rotaxisaclub,state,nationalandinternationalclassofferinglevelsappropriateforall karters. TheNationalRotaxRankingsystemoperatedbyInternationalKartingDistributors(the Australianimporter)providesamechanismtomeasureagainstdriversfromacrossthe countrywithouttheexpense. TheRotaxNationalsisthetoplevelAustralianeventheldeachyearforRotaxcompetitors. ThisyeartheToddRdcircuitjustoutsideMelbournewillhostwhatissuretobethe premierekartingeventfor2008. Thingstoremember: o CorrectJetonejetabovepopping o Keepyourbatterycharged o Correctpluggap o Exhaustmattingingoodorderandcondition o Powervalvefullyclosing o Powervalveopeningat7,500RPM Now,getyourRotaxoutandgoracing..

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