Ashlea?s on a fast track to the top
By GREG WHITE
AS she begins her final year in junior ranks, Coffs Harbour's motorcycle princess Ashlea Bates is already fielding offers for 2007.
After waltzing to the top at last week's Queensland women's championships in Toowoomba, the nibbles are coming in to compete against the men in her first senior year.
"For the moment I want to ride in as many events as possible and sit back to see what opportunities for the future present themselves," Bates said.
Riding her Wiseman's Kawasaki 250F in competition for the first time in Toowoomba, Bates finished unbeaten in three starts to win the carnival overall.
That's after less than eight-hours practice on her new machine.
"The bike handled really well but I'm still getting used to the power," she said.
"Couple of times I gave it too much and the front wheel came up.
"Once I get it out into the bush to give it a real work out, I should be able to sort out all its tricks."
Bates said her first ride was her best of the day.
"It's a red loam track with a really fast surface," Bates said.
"By the time my race arrived it had been ploughed up with some soft spots in the middle, but harder elsewhere."
Despite the conditions, Bates led from the gates and wasn't challenged.
"Getting in front by the first corner was a big help," she said.
"There were five laps up and down hills and nobody managed to head me."
Next start for Bates is the first round of the North Coast Five Way series in Maclean later in the month before the Go Girls carnival on March 19.
Then, it's on to Canberra for the Australian Titles.
"Ultimately, I want to race professionally in the States," Bates said.
"And I would like to do my apprenticeship as a bike mechanic."