New Plymouth's Thomas Boniface knows how to speed around the racetrack.
The Woodleigh School year 5 pupil, who turned 9 two weeks ago, drove his 85cc kart to a national cadet title in Wellington at the weekend.
The young gun qualified second-fastest of the 15 karters - aged between 8 and 11 - finishing just a whisker outside the lap record, behind top qualifier Ben Morrison, from Auckland.
He then finished second, first and third in the three heats, each raced over 10 laps, to start on pole for the 14-lap pre-final. He finished third in that and started the 19-lap CIK Trophy of New Zealand cadet final from pole three.
After the second corner, Thomas hit the front and he led on 18 of the 19 laps, with the lead changing several times each lap.
Thomas held his nerve and went on to win the final by a kart-length from Joshua Parkinson (Mt Wellington) and Tom Greig (Manawatu), with Morrison fourth. Joshua was later disqualified following a technical inspection of his kart, with the other two promoted.
The karts can reach speeds of up to 85kmh. Thomas is running third in the cadet class in the lower North Island Gold Star series. There are two more rounds - Hawke's Bay and Wellington - before the championship round at the Waitara track in June. He's also planning to line up in the national schools karting champs in Christchurch in July.
One of the previous winners of the trophy is Brendon Hartley - now a test and reserve driver for the Mercedes F1 team.
Four other Waitara karters competed in Wellington.
Dylan Frere was 11th in the junior restricted class, his first outing since moving from the cadet class before Christmas.
Matthew Podjursky was to be running in the KF3 class (an international class for junior drivers under the age of 15) but blew the engine in practice on Friday. He switched to the junior Yamaha class but was unable to match the pace of the other drivers, finishing sixth in the final.
Brad Still (Yamaha lights) was fastest in qualifying in the first outing in his brand new Tony Kart. He was quick all weekend, finishing second overall.
Alex Geary was third after a mixed weekend.
- Taranaki Daily News
Is Ma'a Nonu returning to the Hurricanes ...Related story: Ma'a Nonu's return to Hurricanes confirmed
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates