Ireland's most successful ever junior karter Gary Thompson heads to Parma, Italy this weekend to begin his career in the senior ranks.
The Italian Industrials Karting series marks an early graduation to the senior category for the Donabate 15-year-old following a highly successful final season in juniors.
In a twin pronged assault on British and European kart series, Thompson finished third in the highly prestigious and ultra competitive Junior ICA Super One series, the highest position ever achieved by an Irish driver.
Gary also qualified for the European Championships, the only Irish driver to do so, where he finished 13th overall out of more than 170 entrants, another record achievement for an Irish junior driver at the world's most prestigious junior karting event.
In his British campaign Gary scored four podium with three second place finishes, one third as well as one fourth place, one fifth and four sixth places. He missed out on second place by just two points.
He was not out of the top three in the Super One championship throughout the season and actually led the points race with two rounds remaining. Former graduates of the Super One series include Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
Now, as he heads in to his first race weekend as a senior driver, Gary can look back at a successful period in the Junior age group for 12-16 year-olds.
"We've been pretty competitive in Juniors this year and, although I'm still eligible for another year, it's the right time to move up as I wouldn't have learned much more and some of the smaller guys would have a weight advantage.
"I'm not expecting instant success in KF2 because there are lots of guys who've been racing in seniors for years and are very familiar with the equipment. For me the winter Industrials series will be a case of familiarization although I'll definitely be going flat out!"