Scott McLaughlin will make a return to the karting arena when he races in the KartSport New Zealand National Sprint Championship meeting in Hamilton over Easter.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team Supercars driver is set to pilot a Tony Kart in the 125cc Rotax Max Heavy class at his home karting circuit, where he is club patron (KartSport Hamilton).
McLaughlin’s interest was stoked by attending the corresponding event of 2018 in Rotorua in his capacity as patron of local governing body, KartSport New Zealand.
“It just brought it all back,” he explained.
“The thrill, the excitement, even the butterflies in the stomach feeling I used to get when I was sitting on the dummy grid waiting to head out onto the track… and I was just there to watch.
“So when I found out that this year the Nationals were being held at my old home track at Hamilton, I was like, ‘I’ve got to actually be in a kart this time!’”
According to KartSport New Zealand President Graeme Moore, McLaughlin’s presence will be a major thrill for the young karters competing at the nationals.
“Scott is their hero, there’s no doubt about that,” declared Moore.
“Until he arrived on the scene, if you asked one of our Juniors what they wanted to do in life most would have said, ‘be a Formula 1 driver.’
“Now if you asked them, they’ll say ‘drive a V8 Supercar’ and a lot of that would be down to Scott.
“He’s such a good role model, fast and fair on the track and always ready to engage with the fans, particularly our young karters, who aspire one day to step into his shoes.”
A total of 158 entries have been taken for the meet, including 18 in the 125cc Rotax Max Heavy class.
McLaughlin will be team-mate to current national class champion Zach Zaloum, and says he too will be vying for a strong result.
“I’m primarily there to enjoy a great weekend of karting at a track I know and love with a great bunch of people,” explained the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship winner.
“Part of my role as Patron of KartSport New Zealand, also, is to inspire the next generation of kids coming up through the ranks, and I truly can’t think of a better way to do that than by racing a kart myself.
“As to how I go, I won’t really know until I see who else is there, but put it this way, I’m a competitive person and I haven’t entered just to make up the numbers.”
The meet takes place from April 19-21.