Driver Diary: AJ Myers – 2023 FIA Karting KZ World Championship – Test
Myers takes to the Pro Kart Raceland in Wackersdorf, Germany in preparations for the 2023 FIA Karting KZ World Championships (Photo: AJ Myers)
The 2023 FIA Karting KZ World Championship is set for September 7-10 at the Pro Kart Raceland in Wackersdorf, Germany. Many of the top shifterkart drivers from around the world will converge on the 1.19km circuit to decide this year’s world champion. USA drivers have competed at the event in the past, including multi-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion AJ Myers. The 27-year-old is set to make his third start at the event, this time racing under the Magik Kart USA banner with support from key personnel from Europe to take on the major manufacturers and factory teams.
Myers will provide his insight into the event, including a pre-test preview, a post-test submission to help set the stage for the upcoming world championship, and a post-race report to help bring you the readers closer to the experience of racing at a world championship. The first installment was the pre-race preview, and now, he presents his recap of a test weekend in Germany.
Day #1 – August 16, 2023:
What started as a normal day waking up at 5:10 am for work, ended with me jumping on a plane for the long flight over the pond. I worked that day as normal and was lucky enough to sneak out a little early to catch my flight. Everything with the flight went as smoothly as one could wish, I even got the entire row to myself. Not much more I could have asked for. Next thing I knew, it was 6:30 am the next morning and I was officially in Germany. Munich to be exact.
Day #2 – August 17, 2023:
The original plan was to be picked up by Peppo that morning in Munich, but unfortunately van issues aren’t only specific to Andrew Bujdoso. It honestly worked out in my favor, instead of going straight to the track I went and did some touristy things. I grabbed a rental car and headed off to Munich. It was a beautiful city, with a lot of old architecture. The coolest part was all the greenery all over the city. I explored the city the entire morning before starting to head towards the track. I still had all the time in the world, so along the way to the track, I would pull off the highway and just check out some of the little towns. Nothing much exciting until I happened upon Regensburg, roughly 20 minutes from the track. Here I found some cool views, good food, and successfully killed the rest of the afternoon. Caught up with Peppo, Alessio, and Matteo that night for some pizza and headed to bed.
Day #3 – August 18, 2023:
First day on track! Typical morning at a racetrack. Woke up, stop for some coffee/croissant, and started getting the kart ready. Obviously, I was a little extra anxious to get on track and get started. Once on track, my first impression was how different the feeling was driving on this track than I am used to. The amount of grip already laid down on the circuit would turn the wheel for you as you drove across it. And from what I was told, I haven’t seen the real grip yet that will be there during the race weekend. Typically, I will coach my drivers that any wheel input when you get on the gas will kick out the rear in a slide. Here, it was more. Any wheel input while throttling down and your kart was going to go buck-wild. We started out with simply the same ‘standard’ set-up that typically works for us in the USA, but we were driving on a LeCont tire, a tire I personally haven’t driven on the Magik chassis. It is not like the MG Yellow or Evinco Red that I have so much experience with. To go along with that for KZ, the weight is equivalent to 375lbs compared to the 390-395lbs used in America. We focused the first day on just pounding laps and getting comfortable with the track, testing small things throughout the day to try and gain an understanding of how different changes affect the kart. We ended up doing 100+ laps, and by the end, I was starting to understand how I needed to drive in these conditions.
Day #4 – August 19, 2023
Second day on track started just as the last one. In the morning sessions, when the track was at its fastest, we did some new tire runs and the speed seemed to be good. During the testing, there were many different tire compounds on the track, and after lunch rentals were mixed in, it really left the track in a confusing state. You couldn’t really focus on the lap times as the track would change, or someone would bring dirt onto the track etc. We rather just focused on the feel of the kart and kept trying little things here and there. For my driving, I had to focus on not braking early. I kept not accounting for how much more the grip was on the track, which slows down the kart itself, leading to me trying to get on the gas early. Getting on the gas early here really seems to punish you. Instead, I just focused on pushing those brake zones and working on the brake release into corners. The more I drove and spoke with some friends with experience driving in high grip levels, the more I realized there is no secret setup to find that is going to be perfect. Driving how the track conditions demand will do more for you than any axle change can do. I ended up doing 70 or so laps, cleaned up, ate at the track restaurant, and headed to Airbnb.
Day #5 – August 20, 2023
The last day at the track started just like all the other ones. We did some more new tire tests in the morning again but was missing about two-tenths to the previous day. In the afternoon, the speed was again slower than the previous day, and without too many reference drivers out there, we just chalked that up to track conditions. Finished out the day doing another 70 laps or so, just using the time to get more and more laps in on the track. Lap times on this track seem to vary just like any other track, some days it is fast, and some days it is slower. It’s tough to judge the true speed we had since there weren’t other KZ drivers there while I was testing. We won’t know until we hit the track for the real deal. The temperature for all this testing was 90F and the race is more likely to be low 70’s. We are as prepared as we could have gotten in the three days, and now we just wait to see where we stack up when the first session goes green.
Day #6 – August 21, 2023
Time to go home! A lovely 5am wake up and drive to Munich airport, about 1 hour and 30 minutes from where we were staying. Hopped on my 9am flight and next, I was back in Charlotte, NC. I got food and tried to get home as soon as possible. Bed couldn’t come soon enough.
Overall, the testing went as well as could be expected. I know the track, and I know what to expect when I get back there. The most encouraging part of the weekend was actually picking up a KZ2 driver for the race. We offered my chassis up for testing the day of my return and it went well enough to have him jump on board for the race. This will give me that extra data and see what is working or not working on the other karts. It is also encouraging to see someone jump in your own kart and love it, gives you a little validation that the package is strong going into the world finals. Also gives you the perspective that ‘I got all I need, there are no excuses’.
After a brief time at home, it was to Cincinnati for the fourth stop of the United States Pro Kart Series. The Checkered Motorsports crew provided us with a great weekend to sweep the event for our second victory on the season and extend the championship lead heading to the series finale in October at my new home track of Trackhouse Motoprlex.
But first, it’s time to head back over the pond and to see what the American team can do against the best in Europe.
Follow the action of Myers at the 2023 FIA Karting KZ World Championship at fiakarting.com.