It's a case of 'stepping into the unknown' this weekend as top New Zealand karter Daniel Bray lines up to contest the 2012 CIK-FIA World Cup meeting for KZ2 at the Sarno track in Italy.

KZ2DanielBray-4.gifPhoto: Daniel BrayBray is the first Kiwi karter to qualify - via the annual CIK Trophy of New Zealand meeting in Wellington in January this year - for the World Cup meeting for the KZ2 (6-speed gearbox-equipped 125cc) class. And just getting to the Final will be an achievement.

"It's the ultimate, there's nothing bigger," the 25-year-old Aucklander said on the eve of his departure to Italy for the meeting. "There are 107 entries from 19 countries for the KZ2 class alone and of those only the best 34 will move on from the heats to the Final. So qualifying is going to be key."

Bray, the reigning New Zealand KZ2 class champion as well as the winner of the class at the stand-alone CIK Trophy of New Zealand meeting earlier this year, has already been to Germany to watch the final round of the European KZ2 Championship, and to Italy to test with his team - GP Karts - at the 1.6km Sarno circuit which is situated  40 kms south of Naples.

He also flew out early this time around so he could join the top European drivers at the official four-day test at the recently extended Sarno track last weekend.

Though he has raced with success here and in the United States - where he is the defending SuperKarts USA Pro Tour S1 class champion - Bray said that nothing prepared him for the high-speed Sarno circuit.

"It's certainly got the fastest straight of any track I've raced on so far - I was doing 165km/h at one stage!"

With the European KZ2 championship meeting still fresh in their minds, local karting journalists are tipping big things from newly crowned European champion Simas Juodvirsis from Lithuania. They are also rating German Michele Di Martino, Holland's Dylan Davies and locals Luca Tilloca, Felice Tiene and Mirko Torsellini highly.

Having finished third behind 2011 KZ World Cup class winner Marco Tortellini and top Dutch driver Indy Dontje at the final round of the SKUSA Pro Tour in Las Vegas last year Bray is not daunted by the competition. But he is being realistic.

"The first tick in the box has got to be to qualify. The second is to get through the heats and into the Final. After that? I guess we will just have to wait and see!"

Bray is one of three drivers from this part of the world making the trip to the World Cup round with Australians Kyle Ensby and Ricky Capo joining him in the KZ2 class.

Practice at the venue begins today with qualifying tomorrow (Friday), heats on Saturday and Pre-Finals and Finals on Sunday.

CAPTION: Auckland karting international Daniel Bray on the World Cup meeting for KZ2 in Italy this weekend. 'The first tick in the box will be to qualify!' Photo credit: Fast Company/Greg Henderson

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