Semi-professional motorbike racer Lara Small, who is the commander of a Territorial Army troop in Chesterfield, continued her progress in the Thundersport 500 series at Snetterton in Norfolk.
The 30-year-old Small, who has been racing for a year with the British Army Motorcycle Road Racing Team, took part in the third round of the series, run by Thundersport GB and sponsored by Crank Racing. And in five races against 57 riders, she posted a fifth-place finish on her Honda CB500 machine and also clocked a personal-best (PB) lap time of one minute, 28.5 seconds, down from 1.33, which she recorded last year.
After spending the opening day studying the tricky corners of the track and getting mentored by an experienced rider, Small recorded progressively improving lap-times on the test day and qualified in 26th place on the grid.
In the first race, she broke into the top 20, which she described as “an ideal result”. She added: “I focused on corner-exit speed and picking rivals off by slipstreaming them. It’s an excellent way to pass them, and very safe.”
Small’s bike reached a speed of 107.2mph, which placed her ninth in the top-speed ratings, and left her full of confidence for the second and third races, which were back to back.
In race two, she recovered from a slow start when “swamped at the first corner” to bag fifth spot. “The straights are so long at Snetterton that you’ve got time to think about what you’re having for dinner!” she joked. “So I overtook almost everyone!”
Small started as far back as 24th on the grid for race three because it was based on best lap times so far. But she responded with her PB and ended up in 19th position. “It was the most fun I had all weekend,” she said. “The pressure was off because I knew I wasn’t going to win, and on the second lap, I nailed my PB. Phenomenal!”
In the championship race, Small finished a fine 18th of 36, and an excellent weekend was only marred in the final race when, in pouring rain, she came off her bike at one of the notorious corners. “Silly old me,” she said. “But roll on the next round at Cadwell Park!”