New Zealander Daniel Bray is one of the world's best international professional kart racers who competes in Europe and the United States for his GP Racing karting team. The 26-year-old made a name for himself locally by winning just about everything there was in New Zealand and in 2011 had his biggest result to date when he was crowned US champion in the premier S1 class.
This year Bray's been busy with his GP Racing outfit, but found a bit of down time to compete at the annual event at Mount Wellington. Bray's used to the cut-and-thrust of international racing but reckons it can be just about as hard back here on home turf where a lot of his career started.
"It was a pretty good time. I should've, could've, want to have won but I didn't," said Bray. "I made one mistake and got pounced on and that's what racing at Mount Wellington is all about. It's close and competitive and you make one mistake and you drop back to fourth.
"It was still great to go back to the old stomping ground and get some racing in."
The globetrotting Kiwi didn't manage to get an international title this year but his CV still looks pretty impressive. He picked up a third place at the world karting championship and finished second in the US national championship.
"I managed to get elevated up to third in the world championships after the guy [Italian Loris Spinelli] who punted me off while I was leading got a time penalty. Hopefully the trophy is on its way from France as we speak," said Bray.
Being a factory driver for GP Racing makes life a little easier when bouncing back and forth around the world to contest various European, American and world championships. Bray has put most of his life into karting and it's rewarding, especially for someone from a country not anywhere near the centre of world karting, to earn a factory drive.
Having said that, New Zealand has a great history in karting up to and including Wade Cunningham winning the world title in 2003.
"All the hard work over the years has paid off and this has been a great year," said Bray. "It's definitely so for the GP team I drive for, especially with the launch into America of their new Aluminos chassis. I used it to win the national summer rounds and It also helped that I did so well at the nationals in Vegas.
"It was a great year, not just for GP in Europe, where they are based, but also in America. Here in New Zealand has been great with us getting first and second in the national championships."
Being a factory driver doesn't mean Bray just flits around the world racing. He's also an integral part of the development of all new chassis and spends a fair amount of time testing, tweaking and providing feedback to the team's base in Piacenza, Italy.
"In three trips to Europe this year I've probably driven nine different chassis," he said. "We go to a race meeting and take three different chassis with us and then decide which one we're going to race.
"After the weekend we go back to the factory for a debrief and decide what changes to make. At the race meeting the team have designed around what modifications we decided the last time we raced them.
"We test them and I decide which one is better and we race that one and do it all again. There's constant development going on and that's why they need me up there."
According to Bray it's a lot harder racing in Europe than in the US. In his KZ2 class there are any number of drivers from the 115-plus who regularly race in the European and world championships and who could win, as opposed to around the 40 who race in the premier S1 class in the America.
"It's getting harder to find the time to do as much racing as I'd like so I limit myself to doing overseas events and the bigger events in New Zealand.
"It's a kind of compromise but as long as I'm fast enough I'll keep driving and hope I have another good year in 2014."