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KTM Supermoto Versus 250cc SuperKart

Two wheels versus four wheels challenge. only with a difference. In the orange corner a rampant KTM Supermoto. And in the red corner is a vicious little 250cc superkart. the location was Lydd, the weather terrible, who would win in a five lap race

Meet Phil Jones and his 65bhp, 113kg, 250cc superkart. Phil competes in the UK Championship and is considered a rather dab hand behind the wheel. Now meet Ady Smith and his 75bhp, 105kg, KTM supermoto. The slight power advantage that Ady might have would be reduced due to the fact that they would be racing for five laps round the grand-sounding Lydd International Raceway in Kent, with a massive 13 corners in just 1240 metres. This challenge caused more discussion round the office than any of the others, the general consensus being that the kart would piss it. Phil agreed when I asked him if he was up for it, “This thing would murder a bike round that circuit”. This was going to be a good one

The day we picked was the type where you can’t see the sky beyond a shapeless grey morass, everything was shrouded in fog, and the track was slick and gripless. The day before the circuit had hosted a drifting event and every corner was covered in rubber, on top of which sat rainwater from the night before. After three warm up laps Ady very nearly put his bike back on the truck, “I am not risking my own personal safety for a race against a go-kart,” he hissed. “There is absolutely no grip out there whatsoever.” I pretended I couldn’t hear him, told him he looked good out there and patted him on the back until he rode out again.

Phil and his kart weren’t having much luck either. The kart seemed to take an age to rev up coming out of the corners, but would then scream into the powerband just as Phil was hitting his braking markers. It sounded like death on a stick, the sound of it screaming its nuts off at 11,000rpm with an Akrapovic factory supplied baseline courtesy of a slip siding KTM was awesome to see and hear. Back in the pits Phil admitted that he could be in trouble as the kart was geared for Donington full circuit which meant tall gearing and a top speed of 135mph, Jesus, Not exactly the kind of karts you find you find down the seafront in Blackpool, then.

The rules were simple: five laps from a standing start with the winner being whoever crossed the line first. The tension was tangible. The layout of the track went in Phil’s favour as Ady had to ride in the opposite direction to how the bikes normally would, though you wouldn’t think it as Ady wheelied off up the track with a buzzing Phil snapping at his rear wheel like a yapping terrier. After one lap Ady had about a bike length on Phil, who was struggling with the grip, or lack of. When they were both on the back section you could neither see nor hear them for about five seconds, just like that bit in Apollo 13 when they re-enter the earth’s atmosphere. When Phil re-appeared on his own it didn’t look good for the bike, but then Ady appeared, booming and angry and the KTM was really flying. We were cheering like geeks at the side of the track, and although I was conscious of the fact that the crowd consisted of myself, a photographer and the owner of the track I couldn’t help jumping about and cheering when they slithered past us. This was proper argy-bargy racing.

It didn’t take Ady long to reel Phil in and within a lap he pushed back in front. Three laps in Ady seemed to have found a rhythm and settled his pace, super-smooth and controlled in comparison to Phil who looked like he was trying to catch a greased penguin round an ice-rink. Every time he gathered it together the kart would try and change ends, wheelspin, or both. By the last lap Ady had about 10 bike lengths on the kart, consistently lapping around the 43-second mark while Phil showed all the consistency of curdled milk. The red mist had descended on the kart and Phil’s aggression was being channelled straight to the rear wheels, and on the start-finish straight of the last lap he came past us sideways in full attack mode when his CR250 engine seized, spinning him awkwardly like a dropped rugby ball. Ady wheelied the rest of the lap and popped a stoppie over the line.

Over a cup of tea afterwards Phil looked puzzled, “lack of grip is no excuse as I had twice as much chance of finding some as Ady, I would love a re-match, in the dry at Darley moor”. Ady was just glad to get it over with. “I had to ride lines that I would never use when I’ve raced here just to find some grip, I don’t gel with this place at the best of times, so I am pleased with the result.”

Thanks to Karting Tips for the help with this feature.