Ashlea happy to be back on her bike
ASHLEA BATES has had six long weeks to think about the task she faces in her return trip to New Zealand this weekend.
Within days of returning from a second placing to world champion Katherine Prumm in her open grade debut at the Ssang Yong New Zealand Motocross championships recently, Bates was struck down by a mystery illness.
"For five weeks I didn't go near the bike and spent 10 days in hospital," she said.
"Then we went to the Barrier Reef to spend some time recuperating, so I guess I might be a little behind in practice but it hasn't harmed my mental preparation."
In fact, the 16-year-old only climbed back onto her motorcycle last Wednesday but if anything is lacking it didn't show when the young rider put on a display for the Coffs Coast Advocate.
It's not the first time Bates has suffered a major career setback. As a junior she suffered a broken back but returned to riding stronger than ever.
This weekend's round four series conducted by the South Canterbury club at Timaru gives Bates a genuine shot at the NZ title at only her second international appearance.
"The course is more to my liking on a natural terrain whereas last time I was in the sand for the first time," she said. "The aim is a podium finish."
Success has brought the sponsors circling with Dirt Angels the latest to sign up and preliminary discussions commencing for a possible contract with Team GP Husqvarna.
"They have offered a position on the tours in New Zealand, Europe and the USA," Bates explained.
"It's a big step and I'll have to consider how it will affect my schooling."
Bates flies out of Australia today accompanied by mum Jo and her Go Girls sponsor.