The top Kiwi finisher at the 22nd SKUSA SuperNationals meeting last year, Matthew Hamilton, and fellow Christchurch karter Jacob Douglas, spearhead a seven-strong Kiwi squad at the 23rd annual event which started today (Wednesday Nov 20) in Las Vegas.
Hamilton won his class (S4 Masters) on debut back in 2013 at what – with over 500 entries across 10 classes – is promoted as ‘the biggest kart race meeting in the world.’ And after finishing third in the premier US domestic Pro Shifter 125cc class last year, is regarded as one of the favourites in the new-for-2019 IAME SSE 175cc/6-speed based G1 Masters class this year.
Karters from all over the world travel to Las Vegas each year for the premier event on the annual SuperKarts USA (SKUSA) calendar, held on a tight, technical course marked out by large safety barriers in part of the carpark at the huge Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas.
One of the other Kiwis entered this year, Texas-based expat Nathan Stewart, will join Hamilton on the grid in the G2 ‘super-masters’ class-within-a-class for drivers 45-years-of-age and over.
Stewart, originally from Palmerston North, finished sixth overall and first 45+ driver home in the Pro Shifter class last year so is also being tipped as a possible category winner this weekend.
The other Senior member of the Kiwi squad this year is Bond Roby from Auckland who is making his US debut at the meeting in the Pro Shifter 2 class, which has also moved to the new IAME SSE 175cc 2stroke engine
Jacob Douglas, meanwhile, returns for another crack at the SuperNationals, this time contesting two classes, KA100 Junior and X30 Junior.
Last year the 14-year-old made it into the KA100 class Final and ran as high as 17th before slipping back to 20th. He heads back to the SuperNationals event after a busy year competing against some of the world’s best young drivers in the FIA Karting Academy Trophy series programme in Germany and Italy, and winning the Bridgestone Trophy B-Final in the Junior ROK class at the annual ROK Cup Superfinal event also in Italy.
Joining Douglas in the KA100 Junior class is another young Kiwi karter who has competed at a ROK Cup International event, Logan Manson, from Levin.
Jay Urwin from Tauranga has also headed to the SuperNats meeting on a high, the second-generation racer from Tauranga having won the Micro Max class title at this year’s Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals event in Italy last month.
Urwin, 11, has competed at the SKUSA SuperNationals before and returns as a real dark horse in the Mini Swift class. Completing the Kiwi squad, and making his SuperNats debut this year in the Micro Swift class after a number of big wins at home and impressive performances across the Tasman, is young Auckland driver Maxim Kirwan.