Five-time New Zealand Kart champion Ryan Urban from Auckland's Manukau City is the toast of the United States Superkart scene after winning the prestigious Superstars of Superkarts race at the Laguna Seca circuit in Northern California on Sunday.
Incredibly, the meeting was the first major one for the 23-year-old in one of the twin-cylinder 260+ km/h Superkarts. Before heading to the US he had only had one shakedown drive in Australia and done a club meeting at Manfeild here in New Zealand in a Superkart.
The first sign that Urban might well be a front-runner came during qualifying when he set the third fastest time. He backed that up by finishing second to fastest qualifier Chris Heger in the Pre-Final, then won the Final from second-fastest qualifier Jay Lewis and Kyle Rice.
At one stage Urban slipped back to fourth place in the Final after an incident at the circuit's famous 'Corkscrew' corner but he was able to work his way back up to the front by the flag.
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.
The Superstars of Superkarts meeting is an annual one attracting the world's best Superkart specialists to the Laguna Seca circuit.
Former World 500cc Grand Prix motorcycle champions Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey were instrumental in setting the meeting up and Urban was presented with the event's Wayne Rainey Trophy on the podium.
Last year it was run in conjunction with the MotoGP meeting at the track and this year it was 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.
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.
2006 Superstars of Superkarts meeting Laguna Seca Sun Oct 22
1. Ryan Urban
2. Jay Lewis
3. Kyle Rice
4. Pat Yoshikane
5. Cory Fancy