It was love at first bite for karter Kiahn Burt. The 14-year-old from Palmerston North had barely started school when he had his first taste of karting, after watching family friend Ryan Wood in action.
Yep, that’s the same Ryan Wood who would go on to become a champion in karting, moved to success in Toyota 86s, to Porsche New Zealand and Earl Bamber Motorsport across the ditch. And now he has lit-up the Supercars scene in his Super2 debut with Walkinshaw Andretti United.
After that first experience, Kiahn’s mother Rachel organised a have-a-go day at the local kart club, and from that experience, the young racer was hooked.
“I loved watching Ryan race, but the excitement of racing when I hopped in was 10 times more fun,” said Kiahn. “I love driving fast. The faster I go, the happier I am.
“From that point, I just wanted to go karting and never really ventured into other sport. It is all I have done and all I want to do.”
The success has come with the North Island title in Cadet class in 2016 and last year the New Zealand Championship in Rotax Max Junior class, while recently securing the Goldstar series honours in the same category.
There are sporting links in his family who are all devout motorsport fans. And there’s the family friendship with the Wood family, with Ryan as his role model and Ryan’s father Shane as his mechanic.
“Shane spins the spanner for me most weekends. He is great – without him I would not be winning anything.”
He has key financial support from “the Bank of Mum”, along with Tasman Karts with his Arrow Kart, Supreme Kart Supplies with his engine and recently, the addition of Performance Industry Ltd, who cover his tyre costs.
“Jason from Performance Industry has been around karts for many years and supported a lot of emerging drivers like Liam Lawson, Ryan Wood, Kaleb Ngatoa and others.
“The team at Tasman Karts are a big family who have fun and support each other. I enjoy working with and supporting the younger kids, there is nothing better than seeing them develop their skills and progress.
“And the Manawatu Kart Club are the best karting club in the country. There are a lot of young ones coming through Cadet and Mini Rok classes who have a good chance of making it.”
Things would not be complete without the generous support from his grandparents, who have often driven him to events.
Burt’s ambition first-up is to finish his 2023 season strongly – to claim the Kartstars title in Rotorua this weekend, win the national schools honours and the North Island title. Later in the year they hope to venture across the Tasman to the race the City of Melbourne meet.
His dream post karting is to move into Toyota 86s, on to either Porsche or into the V8 supercars scene.
“Ultimately, I want to get into the big game if I am good enough and if we have enough money. The dream is to be driving race cars for a profession for the rest of my life.”