Interview: Ole Haugård, Engine Tuner

from FIA Karting

“IN THIS BUSINESS, I ATTACH GREAT IMPORTANCE TO LOYALTY AND TRUST”

With his Vortex engines, Danish engine tuner Ole Haugård (38) has again contributed to the triumph of British driver Freddie Slater and the RFM team. Just as they did in the FIA Karting World Championship in 2020, this magical trio became European Champions this time, while narrowly missing out on another World title.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER IN KARTING?

I raced in the 90s in Denmark, with some international experience in Junior and Intercontinental A. I quickly became more interested in the technical side of things and was involved in the good results my brother Rasmus achieved in the early 2000s. When he finished, I started to work with teams like CRG Holland, Ward Racing and Tony Kart Junior Team.

Then I started my own business as “One Engines”. For the record, this name comes from the fact that my brother only came to the circuits with one engine, because he didn’t have enough money! Of course, “One” also refers to first position. My reputation increased after George Russell won the European Junior-KF3 title in 2012. Then the collaboration with the RFM team was productive. Together, we have won five World and six European Championship titles, among others.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO ACHIEVE SO MUCH SUCCESS?

First of all, our job requires a lot of work. Our customers don’t necessarily realise it, but our presence on the circuits is only the tip of the iceberg. In the workshop, we spend hours dismantling, preparing, developing, reassembling and testing engines. One Engines also has a shop that imports chassis from the OTK group and Vortex engines to Denmark. In total, there are eight of us working for this small company. This means a lot of sacrifice, at the expense of family and friends. Secondly, a relationship of loyalty and trust with the people I work with is essential.



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THE DRIVERS ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE BEST ENGINE FROM THE ENGINE MANUFACTURER. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THEM?

In an FIA Karting Championship, the myth of the engine manufacturer who has an engine that allows an advantage of two or three tenths over another is just an illusion. The difference comes rather from an exceptional driver or a small specific adjustment made at the right time. If we take Freddie Slater, the engine with which he won in Zuera to become European Champion was a new one that I had just prepared. Like all engines that win a major event, it then went to a shelf in the workshop, where it sits amongst other winning engines. It now belongs to history. My aim is always to have engines that are equivalent in terms of performance. In the races leading up to the World Championship, all the teams I was equipping won at least one heat. For me, there is no better publicity.

DO YOU HAVE ANXIETY ABOUT THE TECHNICAL CONTROLS AT THE END OF A RACE?

Along with the people who I work with, we try not to be too close to the limit and we take particular care with checks which are carried out twice rather than once. We have specific procedures in place.

IS IT MOTIVATING TO TRY TO BEAT THE OFFICIAL OTK TEAM AND THE VORTEX FACTORY?

They have greater technical and financial resources than we do. This forces me to find new solutions and to do my best to improve constantly. On the other hand, the factory can lose its way by pushing their research too far.

For my part, I have to make do with what I have and I always know where I stand. It is sometimes easier to optimise standard equipment than to launch into complex innovations. With the team, the objective is to find the perfect balance between chassis, engine, driver and set-up, I am not alone!



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