A new race series for the Piaggio Ape will provide some exciting racing in 2013. Just don’t expect it to be particularly fast
We’ve driven some unlikely race cars here in the Motor Sport office. Deputy Ed 41 Gordon Cruickshank once drove a racing truck, while I’ve been ‘lucky’ enough to race in the Citroen 2CV 24 Hours. None of us has yet sampled racing lawnmowers, but even those would seem positively sporty next to the Piaggio Ape (pronounced a-pay). Built to fill that tuk-tuksha ped hole in the Italian market for a two stroke truck, the Ape was launched in 1948.
You won’t believe this, but Ape race series already exist, just not in Britain. That’s because the Ape has never been officially imported here. Now, 64 years after the first version was built, it has finally made it across the Channel. Piaggio has set up a race series for these beasts and in 2013 the first World Championship comes to Rye House kart track. Yes, you read that right. There will be four two-hour endurance races and the season is priced at £6000, which includes the Ape, entry fees and petrol.
I did a 15-lap stint at Rye House and can safely say that it will be the most exciting slow race in the world. Malossi kits transform the 50cc engines to 102cc, but thankfully 45mph is the top speed. I say thankfully because you have to work extremely hard to stay upright on corner entry. The diff cuts the power if you’ve only got two wheels on the ground coming out of a corner, foot on the throttle, but not when you turn in. All in all, it’s a wonderfully ridiculous form of motor sport.