EAST Lancashire will be represented by riders Harry Hartley and Tom Carne as well as the FPW Racing team when the new British 125GP Cham-pionship season starts this weekend.
The first race of the season takes place at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent on Monday with qualifying for the series, which acts as a support for the British Superbike Championship, taking place on Saturday and Sunday.
Fifteen-year-old Hartley, from Worsthorne, remains with Team Symitry IT North this season after switching from CN Racing midway through 2011.
Haslingden’s Carne, 18, raced with East Lancashire outfit FPW Racing last year but has opted to join Team Repli-Cast for 2012. FPW have recruited Luke Hedger, from Gloucestershire, as a replacement.
For Hartley and Carne it is their second year in the series, and both are optimistic about their prospects after being happy with recent testing sessions.
“We went out to Mallory Park and we were on the pace with lads who had done more testing, so it was better than I expected,” said Hartley.
“I’m just hoping to get solid points in the first race, and finish the race.”
Hartley missed the end of last season after breaking a metatarsal at Donington, although fears over damage to his vertebrae were later allayed.
He recovered to take part in a trial for the Red Bull Rookies in Spain in October and, although he did not make it through, he is pleased to have earned a chance in the sport at such a young age.
“Going to Spain was a good experience,” said Hartley, who won the British Minimoto Championship in 2006 and 2007 but at 15 is still two years older than the youngest competitor in the 125GP series.
“I didn’t make it past the first day but it wasn’t that I didn’t ride well, it was just because I was too big and getting towards the top of the age group for the people there.
“Last year I finished 13th in the championship, although I missed the last couple of rounds after I fractured my foot.
“I’ve been racing since I was seven or eight and I’ve been riding quad bikes since I was three or four.
“It’s just different to football, everyone plays football. This gives you that adrenaline rush.
“I’d just like racing bikes to be my job in the future.”
Carne finished 12th last season and believes he can challenge for the title during 2012.
“I am going to try and win it, and I definitely think I can,” he said.
“I have got a brilliant bike so there is every chance.
“I can’t wait for the new season to get started.
“I’ve just got back from testing in Spain, and things went brilliantly.
“I am hoping for some good results, because I know I can do it.”
And FPW Racing are similarly hopeful of honours, with team boss Adrian Mason saying: “We’d like to win the championship, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t.
“Without sounding arrogant, I think we can win it, if things fall in our favour. The main thing is consistency, because the bike’s good enough and I think we will get stronger as the season goes on.
“Another positive is the competition we face, as a lot of the other racers can’t attend all events due to them racing in the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
“That means they will miss two races completely and miss qualifying in two other races.
“Things are tight financially, so we couldn’t go to Spain this year.
“But we’ve had four tests, the last one in Donington, and they’ve all been really positive.
“Luke came fourth in the championship last year and he was circulating well at Donington.
“Individually Luke is looking for a sponsor so hopefully someone will step forward.”