Vemme Kart
CKN Chatter

CKN Chatter: KMS North America

CKN Chatter: KMS North America

CKN Chatter switches it up this week, as Canadian Karting News sits down with the owners of Canada’s newest karting team, KMS North America. Started by 2012 Canadian and Grand Finals Rotax DD2 Champion Ben Cooper and Peter Kalman, KMS North America takes over the racing operations from SRA Karting, competing aboard Birel Chassis. In 2013, KMS North America made it’s debut at the Florida Winter Tour in West Palm Beach, Florida, but will call Mont-Tremblant, Quebec home when the Canadian karting season begins. Kalman brings plenty of experience as his KMS Racing Team is very successful in Europe, particularly the Rotax Euro Challenge.

Cooper and Kalman have been busy, as they prepare for round two of the Florida Winter Tour where ten drivers will represent the KMS North America colours from all over the globe. Taking a few moments out of this busy schedule, CKN was able to catch up with them and ask a few questions.


CKN: Thank you for sitting down with us Ben and Peter, first off I want to ask: Where did the idea come about to start your own race team in Canada?

Peter:
No problem. Obviously Ben and I worked together in 2011 and had a really great year winning the Rotax Euros and World Finals together. Then when Ben got the offer to move to Canada and start a new life I suggested to Ben to go and do it as he was young and almost had nothing to lose. Then after coming to help Ben out in Florida last year and keeping an eye on Ben’s results I came out to the Nationals in Tremblant last year and then we had the idea and now we are here with KMS Europe and KMS North America.

Ben:
You know I always answer your questions Cody!!! Like Peter said we have had a great working relationship since 2011 and have become really good friends. Through this we had the idea of pushing the Birel and Rotax brand in North America with the support of Birel and Ronni Sala.

CKN: You have taken over from the SRA Karting operation, but still have ties with the organization; can you explain how you two will work together?

Peter:
As KMS North America we have come to an agreement with SRA Karting to take over their team using their equipment. The only tie is that we are an Official Rotax Service Centre based at the Mont Tremblant kart circuit.

Ben:
Exactly what he said!!

CKN: Peter, what attracted you to North America, specifically Canada, after many years of racing in Europe?

Peter:
Keeping in contact with Ben throughout 2012 and seeing how much he enjoyed his time in Canada meant that I already had a good feeling about Canada. Also seeing the opportunity of the karting sport in North America and how much improvement is in the market here meant that it would be a good thing for me to do.

It was a successful debut for KMS North America in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA (Photo by: Cody Schindel - INTL-KartingMedia.com)

It was a successful debut for KMS North America in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA (Photo by: Cody Schindel – INTL-KartingMedia.com)

CKN: Peter, do you plan on doing double-duty, potentially having drivers compete in both Europe and North America under the KMS banner?

Peter:
Ben and I will be traveling back to the Euro Max to compete and help run the team there. We want to try and bridge the gap between Europe and North America and make it an easy transition for drivers from here to go over to Europe and compete. The Rotax Euro Max is the hardest Rotax racing out there so it is a great opportunity for drivers to experience such strong racing before they go an compete in the World Finals. Parker Thompson actually came and competed with us at the last round of Euro Max last year and after early struggles he got used to the strength of racing there and made a strong drive in the final. It then showed with his great drive in the World Finals to 3rd and then this past week in KFJ at La Conca.

CKN: Your debut at the Florida Winter Tour was very successful; can you elaborate on your results at the event?

Ben:
It was stressful initially for me as I was the one organizing things here in Canada while talking with Peter everyday over the phone. That was all new for me so I didn’t focus on the racing until Thursday of the event really. Once the racing got under way it was clear that we had the pace in all the classes we were competing in. In Micro Max we were very strong and could have had some podiums. Juniors was a little bit more difficult, but we are looking on improving with our drivers at the next round. Senior was great and we could of taken two podiums with the speed we had. Then in DD2 Kevin (Luda) and I were strong all week taking first and second both days. We hope we can carry it on in Homestead.

Peter:
The results were very good at the first round and hopefully we can push on at Homestead to get some more successful results. The whole team worked well at the first round considering we are a very young team still with much improvement to be had. Over the course of the year we will see the improvements.

CKN: You guys had plenty of factory Birel support from Italy in Florida; do the guys at Birel plan on coming to Canada to help out in 2013?

Peter:
I don’t know if they plan on coming out in the summer due to their busy schedules for the WSK and the factory team. But we are building a strong relationship with the factory with Ronni Sala taking more and more interest in the Rotax program. This goes to show as the factory guys are coming for support at 3 out of the 4 Rotax Euro rounds with KMS Europe.

Ben:
I think you could see the Factory guys come out during the year depending on what races there are. For sure though we are going to build a good relationship up with the factory to keep on improving the Birel Rotax program.

Ben Cooper, proudly wearing the #1 number plate at the Florida Winter Tour as defend Rotax DD2 Grand Finals Champion  (Photo by: Cody Schindel - INTL-KartingMedia.com)

Ben Cooper, proudly wearing the #1 number plate at the Florida Winter Tour as defend Rotax DD2 Grand Finals Champion
(Photo by: Cody Schindel – INTL-KartingMedia.com)

CKN: What events do you plan on competing at this year? All Rotax?

Ben:
All Rotax yes. We will start the year off with the Florida Winter Tour. From there we have the Quebec Cup, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and Canadian Nationals in Canada. We also plan to race the US Rotax Grand Nationals if we have any interested drivers, the Rotax Pan American Championships, and of course the Rotax Grand Finals. There may be a few more races as well.

CKN: For the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, there are rumours the DD2 RMCGF ticket will be open to International competition, do you have any International drivers interested in racing in Canada for a shot at the Grand Finals?

Peter:
Now that it has been confirmed we might be able to attract some drivers over to race in DD2. Since the last three DD2 Grand Finals winners have been Canadian you would think that it would be a good idea for others to come and compete with them.

Ben:
I think it would be great, as it would hopefully build up the grid in DD2 also. Then it should become truly the premier class.

CKN: Do you have any main goals you wish to achieve as a team this year?

Ben:
My goal is to develop a professional environment to improve drivers from the Jim Russell Academy at Tremblant through to the team. If we can win some races along the way it will be great.

Peter:
My main goal is to help drivers understand that it is not just about getting in the kart and driving. It’s about learning to understand the kart and being part of a team. If we can do this a score some good podiums then I think for a first year it will be great.

CKN: Ben, do you still plan on racing full-time this year, or will you be looking at more of a team management position?

Ben:
I don’t know yet if I am honest. I plan on completing the FWT of course and hopefully securing my ticket to New Orleans. Then depending on how busy we get throughout the year depends on what I will race I guess.

CKN: Final question: who takes the FWT Championship, Cooper or Ludi?

Ben:
I don’t mind, as long as we are 1 & 2 and have some more good races like PBIR on Sunday.

Peter:
As long as we have a 1-2 result either of them can take the win.


Want to be part of a CKN Chatter? Contact us at info@canadiankartingnews.com

CKN Chatter
@codyschindel

News Manager and Senior Photographer for CKN.

IKMG Photos

Articles Related to Ben Cooper

Articles Related to CKN Chatter

Articles Related to KMS North America

Copyright © 2017 International Karting Media Group.