TEENAGER Aaron Smith is one of the top motocross schoolboy riders in the country - and he has set his sights on going even higher in the sport.
The 14-year-old Rhyddings High School pupil has just won a place at the ACU Academy - the governing body of motocross - and is one of the youngest there as well as being the only rider from Lancashire
Aaron, from Oswaldtwistle, will be at the academy for three years and will receive first class coaching from a former British champion, Rob Herring. The aim of the academy is to select the eight top riders and take them from national to international level.
Aaron has been competing at motocross since the age of six and took part in the British Schoolboy Championships for the first time this year, where he finished seventh and in the KWF International where he finished sixth - despite competing against boys aged up to 16.
Aaron's class, the 85cc, involves usually 40 riders starting together, going over jumps and round circuits. There were six rounds for each of the championships, with Aaron's highest finish being a third place.
He got into the sport through his dad, David, who used to compete.
"I got into the expert status but Aaron is better than I was in my prime," said David. "It is because of the better bikes and the tracks but he can also leap 90 foot table tops as he has grown up with them. He loves the thrill of the jumps."
Aaron's love of motocross has taken him all around the United Kingdom, from Devon to Ireland to Scotland, and his dad goes with him although he admits it is hair-raising.
"You are almost willing him over the jumps. Everytime he goes for one my heart flips as I am just willing him to land safely but he just loves it."
Mum Gillian, however, prefers the more sedate life and takes another son Ryan, aged 11, to compete with horses.
"She prefers to go with Ryan and the horses, it is a bit calmer, although I do have to ring her afterwards and keep her informed."
Aaron did take a big step up a couple of weeks ago when he went to Barry Kelly in Ireland to compete in the 85cc Grand Prix of Ireland.
He was competing against riders from all over Europe and finished a creditable ninth over a difficult course.
His next aim is to get on the bigger bike, the 125cc, and then to try to emulate Jamie Dobb - the British rider who won the World Championship in 2002.
- AARON is sponsored by KBC Helmet, Scott Leathers and Triple X Racing.