He's not even a teenager yet, but already Bay of Plenty's Reeve Lee is turning heads on the motorcycling scene.
Lee is only 11 years old, but, with special dispensation from the sport's governing body here, Motorcycling New Zealand, he was able to launch his road-racing career at the third and final round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) in Taupo at the weekend.
The youngster from Arcaia Bay, on the outskirts of Taupo, was battling away at the weekend in the always-popular GIXXER 150 class, a "nursery ground" for aspiring road-race talent, where all riders are on identical Suzuki GSX-150F bikes and so it's a totally level playing field for all competitors.
He finished his debut appearance fifth overall in the GIXXER 150 class, improving as the weekend progressed, compiling an 8-8-4 score-card over his three races.
Lee is a nephew of Suzuki superbike hero Scotty Moir, the Taupo man a remarkable two-time outright winner of the annual Suzuki International Series and, not unexpectedly, he's the rider that Lee most looks up to.
"I've just taught myself to ride, but I have done a bit of motocross (and he won the 9-11 years' 65cc class at MX Fest in October last year).
He says he received a special clearance to race at age 11 because he was able to prove he's no danger on the track to himself or others.
"This weekend at Taupo is my first big event, but I have ridden here before."
His grandfather, Scotty's dad George Moir, encouraged him to give road-racing a go and with a set of riding leathers that used to belong to another current Suzuki superbike ace, Glen Eden's Daniel Mettam, there was nothing to stop Lee getting out onto the tarmac.
"Hopefully I get some wins in the GIXXER 150 class and then I might move up to a bigger bike."
First created by Suzuki New Zealand in December 2017 with the aim of providing a starting place and a pathway towards "growing future champions", the GIXXER Cup class was immediately slotted into the Suzuki International Series programme and it proved to be a runaway success.
Last year the GIXXER Cup series celebrated its fourth season within the Suzuki International Series and it has now well and truly established itself as the perfect competition for road-racing novices.
It was also included in the programme as a support class also in this year's NZSBK series, something that Lee, a year seven student at Taupo Intermediate, could hardly ignore, especially with the final round of that competition being staged on his home track at the weekend.
Many of the young riders who had their first taste of motorcycle road-racing with the inaugural GIXXER Cup contest in 2017 are now out on the track and racing in some of the bigger bike classes, proving the merit of Suzuki's pioneering and innovative small-bike competition.
It possibly won't be long before Lee gains the experience he needs to move up in the GIXXER Cup ranks and also possibly to transition in the future to a star in one of the bigger bike classes, just as former GIXXER Cup riders such as Taupiri's Zak Fuller, Whanganui's Tarbon Walker, Timaru's Harry Parker, Hamilton's Jesse Stroud, Feilding's Justin Maunder, Christchurch's Caleb Gilmore, Sanson's Shane Miller and Whanganui's Luca Durning have already done.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com