Getting Into Leopard Racing!
Author: Roger Polak




If you’ve been to visit tracks like Oakleigh, Todd rd, Bolivar or Ipswich in recent months you may have seen an engine buzzing around that didn’t look familiar.  It kind of looked like an ARC, but was the wrong colour, had electric start, but nope wasn’t a Rotax and it was fast!  Chances are you were looking into the beady eyes of a Leopard, which is a 125cc, water cooled, electric start purpose built engine for go karts.


The Leopard is a simple to use and reliable karting engine that is taking off in various parts of Australia. So how do you get started in the class?  The first step would be to talk to the local kart shop (like us) who sells and races Leopards and to some of the competitors in the class. Second hand Leopards are quite hard to find, but start by asking a Leopard dealer if he has any coming up.






Buying privately you’ll need to do a little more ground work.  Ideally the seller will let you see the engine going, but it’s a good idea to get it inspected by someone who knows about them. Check that the clutch looks alright, the engine cranks over well and the engine is complete with all the hoses, clamps and fitting components. Expect to pay between $2000 and $2400 for a used Leopard and ignore claims of ‘gun’ Leopard engines at high prices.  All Leopards are basically the same depending on how well they’ve been looked after.


If you’re budget stretches to a new Leopard then that’s a safer way of joining the class. But it would pay to ask the kart shop a few questions, like are they planning to stock Leopard parts? Do they have experience with the engine? And have they fitted one to a kart before? Assuming you’re local kart bloke can come up with the goods then buying the engine itself it quite straight forward.  If you already have a kart then you’ll need to specify what tubing it uses on the left side chassis rail (it would be 30mm or 32mm most commonly) and what size axel (for the water pump drive pulley).  Also the weight division you want to race the kart in is important too.  If you’re a heavy driver or racing at tight tracks then you may want to get the engine with a 10 tooth front sprocket.  For lighter drivers and faster tracks the 11 tooth is standard.






Fitting the Leopard is simple and the book it comes with will set you straight regarding where everything goes.  But if in doubt, get a kart dealer to fit it up for you. At MKC we have fitted more leopards to karts than any other shop in the country, so we have a lot of experience. Things to be careful of include making sure the hoses stay away from hot exhausts and brakes. That the earth wire is securely fastened. That the throttle pedal hits the pedal stop and doesn’t strain the carby shaft. Maybe have your local kart dealer inspect the kart before you take it out to run it in.


So the big day arrives and you’re taking the leopard for its first spin.  When you get to the track make sure you do all the normal things like checking tyre pressures. Around 12 or 13 psi is normal, but will vary depending on your track and weather conditions.  Just ask someone who knows the MG Yellow tyre to get a starting point for your track. Make sure you bring the fuel up to the carburetor before trying to start the engine and you might need to ‘choke’ the engine briefly by quickly blocking the air intake holes to make it fire.



Having A Go!



Running the engine in is fairly simple, but you must read the section in the book that covers the run in process and stick to it.  One common mistake people make is going round slowly for half an hour, then blasting off and going full speed.  This isn’t the right way to do it.  You must progressively build up the revs while keeping the engine under load.  So accelerate, then brake, accelerate, then brake.  Then in the following sessions go faster and faster, until you reach race pace.  Do that (and did I mention read the book!) and your Leopard will be properly prepared and give you hours of use.




Ok, so that covers most of the engine side of things, but of course the go kart chassis you choose is important too.  There’s no hard and fast rules about what kart works with Leopard and those that don’t.  But here’s a few suggestions.  In choosing a chassis go for those designed for higher power, which commonly means they’ll be made of 30mm tubing or 32mm tubing, or most likely a combination of the two. Our Tecno, Monaco B Max and Kosmic chassis are all an excellent starting point and we have had a lot of experience with them too. You’ll want to pick a kart that preferably uses a 50mm rear axel. The MG Yellow tyre Leopard runs on is quite grippy and so the chassis needs to be able to take the strain.


So what brands work best? That depends on who you ask.  See what’s racing and winning at your local club to help you make a selection and talk to a few drivers who are successful in the class. Different chassis are popular in different places around Australia and this will play a part in your chassis selection.  It mainly comes down to what chassis have been tested and developed at your local track.


Leopard racing is spreading out around Oz this year and culminates with the Leopard series final being held at the fantastic Pukapunyl track in November 2007.  If you run the series and make it to the final, then win the final, you’ll win a new car from series promoter Remo Racing!  Plus there are other prizes too and various giveaways at each round. Snoop around websites like and for more Leopard information and keep an eye on these pages to get the latest Leopard racing results.