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Lance is speeding to track success

MOTORSPORT: IMAGINE watching your 16-year-old son race around a track at up to 100 miles an hour in his debut season - and then coming off his motorbike.

HIGH HOPES . . . For speed merchant Lance Cronshaw
HIGH HOPES . . . For speed merchant Lance Cronshaw

IMAGINE watching your 16-year-old son race around a track at up to 100 miles an hour in his debut season - and then coming off his motorbike.

That is the sight which greeted Phillip and Christine Cronshaw but luckily it was just a scrape for their son Lance who is hoping to be the next big bike star from the area. He is aiming to follow hot on the heels of World Superbike champions Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson.

This may be a long way off for the Great Harwood lad but, in his first season on the bike, he has forced the racing world to sit up and take notice. The former Norden High School pupil, who turned 17 in August, is currently third in the national CB500 Championships. He is by far the youngest rider in the 12 meeting - 22 race - series and has staggered everyone by getting on the bike - loaned to him by Keith Dixon Motorcycles of Accrington - and making a big impact. There are two races left - at Silverstone this weekend and at Mallory Park at the end of October.

It is 25 points for a win but Lance needs two wins really to catch second place. It is a big ask for a lad who has missed three of the meetings in the series "because we didn't think he'd do so well" said his dad Phillip.

"We thought he would just be tagging on the back of them and getting used to the pace. We didn't expect him to be winning things," said his dad.

Lance however is just looking forward to the next races - and next season. By then he wants to be competing in the New Era Superclub competition - a 12 meeting series - which is the next step up and has been loaned a Honda 600 Hornet for that, by rider John Cronshaw. And then he is eyeing a spot in the R6 Cup - a national championship with 30 competitors and the winner of this gets a place in the British Superbike Team for Virgin Yamaha.

"It costs a one-off fee of £15,000 to enter but we hope we can raise funding - we are looking to enter the competition for April 2005," said Lance.

His parents, who have two older children, have already made various sacrifices but are willing to make more.

"I think we have spent £1,500 on tyres alone in the last year and have not had a holiday so we can pay for it. It is worth it though as we love watching," said Phillip.

The R6 Cup is for the future and next season is a big test for the youngster but team manager Tony Shaw, who won 25 championships in an 18-year motorsport career before he retired last year, has been impressed with Lance so far.

"It has been amazing. We threw him in at the deep end and we didn't expect him to do so well. But he just got on with it. A lot of the people he has been racing against are motorcross champions but he has come from nothing."

"The other riders did try to bully me a bit at first," admitted Lance. "They leaned into me and tried to shove me off the track but Tony told me to stand up to them and now I know how to deal with it."

Lance, an apprentice bricklayer at Whatmore's in Oswaldtwistle, was bought his first bike, a 50cc bike, at six-years-old although his dad said he cried and it was only when it was sold on, that Lance then decided he wanted it! He grew up watching family friend Tony Shaw and although he had a motorcross bike, Lance only competed on it once although admits to spending hours on the fields with it.

Bob Wright gave him a racing bike to try and he took it to a track. The problem was it was raining and he didn't get a proper go so his first meeting was his first real go on the bike. This was at Darley Moor in Leicestershire.

"It was 100 miles an hour and it was hair raising," said Lance. "It was my first time on a race bike. I didn't quite know what to expect but I did enjoy it."

He got the bug although has got into a couple of scrapes. "I came off at Mallory Park. It was a shock but luckily, I was just a bit sore and bruised the next day!"

Mum Christine, a driving instructor, admits it is tough watching at times: "My heart misses a beat if ever he comes off but it is only a split second and then, when he stands up, it is all okay again."

Lance, who uses Shaw's old number, 43, really came into his own at the Pembrey Circuit in Wales. This was a four race meeting and dad and Tony had gone to Assen in Holland to watch the World Superbikes. He wasn't expected to do much as he hadn't won a race and it was only his fifth meeting.

"I was sat watching the Superbikes on a big screen and I got a text to say he had won the first race - then the second and, by the end of the weekend, he had won them all," said his shell-shocked dad.

"Once I had won the first race, I knew I was unbeatable," said Lance. "And I also got the "Man of the Meeting" was good as it is prestigious. I couldn't drink the champagne though as I was too young!"

The sudden rise has prompted Lance to get more attention and now his friends want to join him. "My mates want to come along and watch me but I have to be able to concentrate so I only want the usual people around me at the moment."

But first on the agenda this winter is learning to drive a car which mum Christine will play a big part in.

"If he takes to it like he has the bikes, he will be fine!"

  • LANCE is supported by T Shaw Welding, Centre Point Cutting Company, Peter Whalley Electrical and S & B Tippers, all of Great Harwood; Keith Dixon Motorcycles of Accrington and Bob Wright Racing. Thanks also to Bob Ashworth, Andrea and Dave O'Brien, Jack Hargreaves at Slingers wholesale meat.


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