Late in 2014, that karting industry was shocked with the blindsiding news of Italian kart manufacturer CRG when they announced that the K1 Group and CRG USA were taking control of their North American distribution and race team operations, leaving long time product supporter PSL Karting in the dark and without their factory connection to the brand.
As one of the most influential teams in North America with a massive global following, PSL Karting, from Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, was forced to make an industry changing decision as to what chassis brand they would utilize moving forward. The rumours began immediately, but PSL Karting officials took their time, listening to the many offers that landed on their desk along with researching what was best for their business model.
In due time they announced the switch to the BirelART brand and for the third and final round of the 2015 Florida Winter Tour, PSL Karting was flying the red, white and black colours in beautiful fashion.
Through two weekends at the Ocala Gran Prix, Team PSL erupted with race wins, championships and a sea of red was witnessed throughout the paddock with many excited for their new embarkment.
Following the events at Ocala, we were able to catch up with PSL Karting Race Team Manager Andrew Campbell in our latest instalment of CKN Chatter.
First and foremost, after months of discussions and delineation’s how do you feel now that this transition is finally complete and PSL Karting has confirmed the move to BirelART?
It was a lengthy process to evaluate all the manufactures available, as many observers did not quite understand a massive decision like this cannot be concluded in a single week. At the end, we are exceptionally please with our partnership with Birel ART as they are an outstanding group of professionals with a modern product and vision for the new generation of drivers.
Over the last few months we heard of many rumours about possible directions that PSL was unofficially considering. Is there any particular reason why you chose BirelART?
Birel ART best fit our business model in North America, as they shared the same vision for the future of karting as we did at PSL. It was obvious after only our first meeting with Ronni Sala (President BirelART), that there was a common ground and understanding for product development and long term business commitment. We were exceptionally happy with the very defined but limited selection of tuning parts and interchangeability between chassis models. This type of manufacturing mentality makes it very easy for a customer to understand the product, as well, it creates efficiency for our dealers to stock the correct parts when forecasting orders.
The teams debut at the Florida Winter Tour was very impressive. Victories, championships and what felt like a sea of red in the paddock. Did you expect such a big bang at the start?
The PSL team is always exceptionally dedicated to performance and strong impressions. We were well prepared, however, we had tremendous product support from our ‘team-mates’ at KMS Europe, KMS North America, MRP and Andersen Racing. In the end, the Birel ART material is very easy to use, adaptable to all conditions and responsive to adjustment. Having a product that is easy to tune and manipulate allowed our team to focus its strengths on other areas during the race week which allowed us to have the success we demonstrated.
On the racing front, will we see full efforts from PSL Karting at the Eastern Canadian Karting Championships and Coupe du Quebec? Where else will PSL focus their racing efforts in 2015?
We have a full schedule for 2015, with plans to compete in the ECKC, Coupe du Quebec, US Open, SKUSA Pro Tour, US Summer Shoot-Out, US Nationals, ROK Cup and select USPKS events. The big rig and our smaller trucks will service the races where conflict exists.
Will your affiliate race teams /dealers sell Birel ART as well?
There is already an incredible group of existing Birel ART dealers across North America, and we are proud to work together with them.
Just a handful of our new dealers include, Falcone GP (Ernesto Martinez / Mexico), ACM Karting (Alex Louet / Quebec), PSL West (Danny Kacic / Western Canada and Parts of West Coast America), PSL Moncton (Gerald Caseley / New Brunswick), Kart Speed (Jeff Smith / California), BRE Karting (Guy Budel / Manitoba). In the near future, we will publish a list for our clients to work with dealers in their geographical area.
PSL spent some serious development time last year on the PSL Mini X2 for the Rotax Mini-Max category. Has that chassis design come with you to BirelART and will they be manufacturing the next generation of it?
Currently, we are developing a new chassis for the Rotax Mini-Max category, and date has not been set for the launch.
For the Canadian four-cycle market where the Birel chassis is already very popular, what do you have planned?
We will continue to distribute the AM-29Y chassis, which had huge success in the previous years. We have already sold +40 chassis’s since the beginning of March. The Briggs and Stratton program is looking very promising as we saw successful operations like PSL Moncton arrive to Canadian Nationals with 20+ drivers alone.
For those who still want CRG products in Canada, do you have an outlet where they can purchase your remaining PSL/CRG inventory that you still have in stock?
We have a small quantity of CRG inventory remaining. Many of our clients purchased CRG’s at the end of the season taking advantage of our race-team inventory sales, prior to the ’switch’. For those customers, we will support them (for as long as we can) and prepare them for transition to the new Birel ART material. As well, still have a a few of our popular PSL/CRG apparel items in stock (back packs, suits, roller bags) which were a big hit in 2014.
Finally, Is there any information you feel the CKN Nation needs to know about PSL Karting and BirelART that hasn’t been covered yet?
In the very near future of 2015, PSL will launch BirelARTNorthAmerica.com, which will serve as a dealer login for our clients to easily purchase their items online. It will remove the confusion of e-mail and phone call orders, and consolidate all PO’s into one efficient system.
Thank you for your time Andrew, see you at the next race.