The KF1 Karting Circuit: A Walkthrough
For the last few years, the Kartright Speedway track was the only place karting enthusiasts in Singapore could go racing without taking their passports with them. The options have doubled now with the opening of the eagerly anticipated KF1 Karting track. Earlier this month, Johnny and I decided to check it out of our own accord, and this is what it’s like for the fan who occasionally rents a fun kart for a spin.
Getting to the KF1 circuit
The track is located right next to the Singapore Turf Club in the northern part of of the island. It’s easy to reach by public transport: alight at Kranji MRT station and follow the covered walkway leading to the Turf Club to the end, then follow the road to the gate. Should you be on the Marina South-bound train, the noise of the go-karts should make other passengers look up from their phones!
Most of the amenities like the merchandise store, the function rooms and the toilets are located on the second level of the pit building. Unlike Kartright though there are no food outlets, and the nearest options are back at the MRT station. Registration takes place in the store; from our experience it’s a relatively painless process, aside from the expensive fees, but there are no other charges. Helmets of different sizes are provided, as are shower caps for hygiene purposes, but there’s nothing to stop one from using a personal helmet, balaclava or neck restraint (which isn’t supplied). Covered footwear is the only dress requirement.
See how KF1 stacks up against Singapore’s other karting circuits here.
Two different karts are available for rent. There’s the Birel which the company used at pre-Singapore Grand Prix carnivals, so Johnny and I were familiar with it. It’d have to wait though; everyone is required to do (and pay for) the very first run in the slower Viper before they can step up. So into the Viper’s pit we went…
A run in the Viper
The Viper reaches 35km/h at most, and that is probably going downhill. After about half a lap we realised that even lifting off was not necessary, much less braking, and we took the chance to familiarise ourselves with the track as we pottered around.
Hermann Tilke was engaged to design the KF1 layout. The man is a lightning rod for many an F1 fan’s frustrations, as many classic race venues have been modified by him or dropped for tracks he was responsible for. To be fair to him, he’s designed great tracks too, like the Istanbul Autodrome and Sepang International Circuit. While I personally think KF1 doesn’t rank as one of them, it’s still a challenge to master.
The circuit can be split into two smaller tracks and run in both directions; we drove the full layout in an anti-clockwise direction. The similarities with other modern tracks are obvious: it’s wide, mostly smooth (save for a very bumpy section at the back-end), there are nearly the same number of left and right turns, and undulations have been included to make the approach to each corner different. The first part of the lap is straightforward and consists of just three hairpins separated by kinks. The latter part is more interesting, a series of fast and flowing bends that recall some of Tilke’s work in Shanghai and Yeongam.
We hardly broke a sweat by the end of our run in the fang-less kart, and thankfully we won’t have to drive them again on subsequent visits! After the race karts had done their runs, we paid for another session and jumped into the Birels.
Driving the Birel kart
I felt the added power immediately when I floored the throttle; the little rascal kicked tyre marbles into the openings in my shorts, and braking for the hairpins became a must. One difference which separated KF1 from Kartright was the absence of rumble strips on the entry and exit of each corner. I could take a wide line on the painted run-off areas without breaking my teeth. The Tecpro barriers had a lot of give so sliding wide into them caused no lasting damage.
It was far more fun now for me, Johnny and the other participants, as we traded places and pushed the karts as hard as we dared. Those hairpins required patience and precision, but the last few bends were a lot of fun to dance around in spite of the bumps. And boy, some of the flat-out runs seem to go on for ever.
Another plus with KF1’s Birels was the availability of lap times at the end of the session. I got ahead of Johnny on the track when he spun off on his own in the first hairpin, but he scored a lap time that was two-tenths faster. Our 1:05’s were still a long way off the lap record, but we’ll be back to work on them.
And why not? It’s a fun circuit that’s not really punishing, and the opportunity to get timed feedback on each run is enough to draw me back whenever I feel extravagant. I’m glad my options aren’t restricted to Kartright and waiting for the next Grand Prix carnival.
Wed – Fri 1 – 10pm; Sat, Sun and holidays 9am – 10pm
Cost for a 10 min fun kart run
$18 – $45 (depending on age, kart type and hours)