PORT Kembla teenager John Iafolla has always shone on the go-kart track, but it's only in recent years he hasn't solely relied on his natural talent.
The countless hours on the track preparing for upcoming meets paid off big time for the 15-year-old at the 52nd Australian National Sprint Kart Championships in Newcastle on April 18-20.
He was made to work for it in the Junior National Heavy category but the PCR driver charged his way from seventh place on the grid to claim a popular victory ahead of Newcastle driver Ryan Pike.
"The start of the race meeting on Friday and Saturday wasn't the best start but we still set ourselves up for the final," John said.
"Although we were in seventh we thought it was doable from there.
"I just put my head down. I caught the front blokes and once I was in second, first place had skipped further ahead but I caught up to him, passed him and just put my head down and kept going.
"I didn't look back because I thought he was behind me the whole time. When I crossed the line and looked back I'd pulled a cap and I was just so surprised."
John's successful weekend in Newcastle also included a fifth-place result in the Junior National Light category.
The Year 10 student at St Joseph's High School in Albion Park said it was still sinking in that he was a national champion.
"I still can't believe how I did it," John said. "I'm really happy."
The talented driver said a concerted effort from his team to prepare better for meets and ensure he practised more on the track was paying dividends.
"Probably two months before the nationals we decided to give this a real good shot, so we practised every single weekend," John said.
Thankful for the support he has received from PCR owner Tommy Gallo and his father Mario Iafolla, John is now looking to replicate his success at the Lismore Young Guns event on May 3-4.