Five-time New Zealand Kart champion Ryan Urban, from Auckland's Manukau City, heads to the United States this week to face his greatest challenge to date - competing against the world's best Superkart drivers.
Urban, 23, has been racing karts on purpose-built Kart circuits here in New Zealand for over 10 years - but is only a recent convert to Superkarts, which run on motor racing circuits.
This weekend's Superstars of Superkarts meeting is an annual one attracting the world's best Superkart specialists to the Laguna Seca circuit in Northern California.
Former World 500cc Grand Prix motorcycle champions Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey were instrumental in setting it up and Lawson is once again on the entry list in the elite FE class, the one Urban is competing in.
The event is run in conjunction with the Monterey Sports Car Championship meeting at the famous Laguna Seca circuit with the Superkarts running as one of the support classes on a programme jointly headed by the American Le Mans Series and the Speed World GT and Touring Car Challenges.
Also on the programme is the Star Mazda single-seater series and IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
Urban has leased a late model Honda RS250-powered Danish-built PVP Superkart for the event and is one of two New Zealanders, entered, the other being Wellington's Wayne Sproston.
The event has again attracted a bumper entry with 16 in the FE class (for twin-cylinder machines) and 30 in ICE (for single-cylinder karts).
Superkarts are high-performance machines which often lap motor racing circuits faster even than wings-and-slicks single-seater racing cars. They differ from Sprint Karts, which run on purpose-built Kart tracks, by having gearbox-equipped motorcycle engines, four-wheel disc brakes, a downforce-producing rear wing and fully-enclosed bodywork behind which the driver reclines like the driver of a single-seater racing car.
Though Ryan Urban is a relatively recent convert he has been competing in the fastest Sprint Kart class (Open) for the past five years, winning the majority of his five New Zealand and three North Island titles in either that class or the broadly similar 250cc National.
He also has considerable experience on New Zealand's motor racing circuits, having competed at North Island and New Zealand Superkart meetings at Taupo and Manfeild.
Urban will be accompanied on his trip by a small group of friends and family including internationally-recognised Auckland 2-stroke engine tuner Lincoln Shaw of Auckland's Race & Recreation Power Sports, the man responsible for the young Aucklander's engines here in New Zealand.
Action at Laguna Seca this weekend starts on Saturday with official practice the both qualifying and the 50 minute race on Sunday.