Kiwi Niki Is Race ReadyTweet
If determination counts for anything in kart racing, then New Zealander Niki Urwin has already won the race by the length of the straight.
Nine years ago, Urwin was competing in the Australian Motorcross Championship at a Melbourne track when his world came crashing down around him. The then 24 year-old, who was on route to becoming a professional motocross rider, was involved in a freak accident which left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“I was racing at the top level in Australasia and had my sights set on becoming a professional racer in the US, you could certainly say that I was living the dream,” said Urwin.
“Then all of a sudden it came crashing down, in one freak accident my life had changed. I went through a lot of trauma but through it all I was determined not to let any of my injuries get me down.
“I remember being in hospital and one of the first things I remember was writing on a pad to my Dad saying ‘I guess I’m going karting now’. I’d always liked kart racing but they didn’t have the jumps like motorcross did – which was the big adrenaline rush.”
After going through more than 18 months of intensive rehabilitation, Urwin traded his two wheels for four and started his new career – in a specially designed kart that featured hand controls.
Urwin has since gone on to become one of New Zealand’s top kart racers and is this weekend competing in the Rotax Pro Tour event in Albury Wodonga.
The event will honour former karter and V8 Supercar star Jason Richards who tragically lost his battle with cancer last December at just 35 years of age.
Richards who started racing karts aged eight at the Nelson kart track in his homeland of New Zealand competed for eight years and won 35 championship titles.
After advancing to cars, the likeable character would often return to the various karting circuits both in Australia and New Zealand to give back anyway he could to the sport which provided him with so much joy.
“I’d always watched Jason race and admired his achievements, he was never too proud to give back to the sport and hop back in a kart,” said Urwin.
Urwin will be competing in the DD2 Masters category meaning that he not only controls the throttle and accelerator by hand but also changes gears at the same time.
“So far I’m really enjoying it here in Albury Wodonga and I’m looking forward to a great weekend,” said Urwin, who also coaches Kiwi Motocross rider Ben Townley who won the opening round of the Australian Motorcross Championships on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland earlier this month.
Practice for this weekend’s event was contested today, where Urwin was one of the fastest in his category, ahead of qualifying and the heat races tomorrow. The pre-final and finals will be contested on Sunday from 9:30am.
The Albury Wodonga Kart Track is located on Sheathers Road, off Maloney drive, five minutes from the centre of Wodonga.