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Ready, Set, Go! In it to Win it!

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*Editor’s Note:The HLG Kart race has been postponed to October 15 due to “a technical and coordination matter”.

In the lead-up to the HLG Kart Race on October 15*, founder Jean-François Harvey introduces Raphael Blet to the event and provides some tips for competitors.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF Harvey Law Group & by Raphael Blet

After three years in idle mode, the Harvey Law Group (HLG) Kart Race is making a comeback on October 15*. Launched in 2015 by HLG’s Managing Partner, DB resident Jean-François Harvey, the event takes place on Discovery Bay Road with roughly 100 competitors expected to take part this year.

For 2022, the race is divided into two groups: 7 to 10s, racing in one-man karts provided by HLG, and freestyle, in which kids get to race in their own kitmade karts, without or without their parents riding behind. The spec for freestyle karts is brief but precise. They must be capable of being steered, they need to have a braking system and they are limited to gravity power (no propelling mechanisms). The maximum width of each freestyle kart is 91 centimetres, and the minimum distance between the front and rear axle is 72 centimetres.

So, let’s say you’re about to send your seven-yearold down an 8-foot-high ramp, almost 16-foot long and 8-foot wide, and watch him race 150 metres along Discovery Bay Road. What tips can you give your enthusiastic young racer and how apprehensive should you be?

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RACING TIPS
Looking at the big picture, Jean-François says there aren’t any complex race-strategy or kart-handling tips to share with competitors. “All our carts are the same; they all have the same wheels, the same steering system,” he explains. “As long as the kids know how to drive left and right, they will be fine.” Point and shoot, right?

Well to a degree… success in this race comes down to maintaining speed and avoiding unnecessary turns. “Competitors should keep in mind that the race is all about speed, so they need to steer their karts to the finish in a straight line, as much as possible. Every time they make a turn, they lose speed, so the key is to keep to a straight line,” Jean-François explains.

Since 2018, all HLG karts have been fitted with double bearing wheels, which Jean-François says makes them very fast. “If you are building your own kart, be sure to choose wheels that roll very well,” he advises. “Avoid lawnmower wheels. Bicycle wheels could be a very good choice.”

“Staying calm and steady is very important,” Jean-François adds. “It’s quite something for kids to go down that 8-foot ramp. Then the track goes down quite fast all the way to Seabee Lane. Some courage is necessary, especially in the first heat. Self-confidence is key.”

Karts like these don’t have engines but they come off that ramp at high speed – they have to, in order to make it to the finish line without losing impetus. For this reason, competitors are advised to keep their foot off the brake as much as they dare. “Ideally, they should brake only after crossing the finish line,” Jean-François confirms.

Often times, of course, racers will need to brake during a race, for instance if their opponent swerves across their path or they find themselves approaching a corner too fast. In 2016. an improved handbrake system, devised by the event’s main sponsor Milwaukee, allowed Jean-François to lower the participant age to seven years old from the previous edition’s eight. This year, he has taken things a step further by doing away with the handbrake and fitting all karts with a pedal brake instead.

“In previous years, kids were having problems using the handbrake, particularly at corners when they didn’t want to take one hand off the wheel to slow down,” Jean-François explains. “Now we have a pedal brake system that should solve this problem, meaning more competitors will make it to the finish.”

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SAFETY FIRST
While the logistics of the HLG Kart Race are fairly simple, parents can rest assured that participant safety is paramount. For starters, competitors are required to wear properly fitted bike helmets, closed-toe shoes (trainers) and race shirts. They are advised to wear long trousers and gloves… masks too this year.

What’s more, each kart is checked and serviced throughout the race. “Our karts have been built with custom-made parts thanks to our sponsor Milwaukee,” Jean-François says. “The 14 karts will be used around 250 times on the day of the race so you can imagine that we need to spend some time fixing them. Bumpers get broken, each kart will break down two or three times during a race so we have mechanics on the spot.”

Jean-François is quick to acknowledge the support of the HLG Kart Race officials, many of whom are parents of competitors, who work together to ensure racers’ safety. “We are also fortunate to have many volunteers – including the Sea Cucumbers, DB Dragons and DB Pirates– who have provided safety nets and crash barriers,” he says.

“I need to also underline the great support of HKRI and DBSML, without them, simply said, there would be no race at all.”

While race officials are on hand to help, no outside support is allowed between the start and finish lines of a race. Parents are asked not to push a racer along any part of the track. They can however shout out words of encouragement or advice.
Point and shoot, right?

Registration for the HLG Kart Race closes on September 16, so book your spot now at www.hlgkartrace.com. There’s no enrolment fee for participants in the freestyle category, as building a kart involves some costs.

For those competing in HLG karts, the entrance fee is HK$250 per person with all proceeds going to charity.

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