Ashby's Supermoto champ Daniel Drayton rises to challenge
TWO years ago Daniel Drayton couldn't even walk to school on his own after fracturing his spine.
Now, in only his third season of racing, the 14-year-old from Ashby has been crowned British Junior Supermoto champion.
The talented teenager, who declares he was "born to ride", cruised to the title, sealing his triumph with one leg of the eight-round tournament to go.
Drayton's rapid progress is made all the more remarkable given he fractured four vertebrae in a pushbike accident in June 2010.
Book a table for 4 and get £10 off with this voucher. When ringing quote: “This is Scunthorpe” promotion. Your email address.......................... (if you want to receive vouchers in the future)
Terms: Cannot be used with any other offers or vouchers. Print voucher or show us the voucher on your phone.
Contact: 01724 281289
Valid until: Friday, June 21 2013
It meant his debut campaign was cut short after three rounds. But, he returned the following year and finished third before going on to better that this time around.
"I was just expecting to get top three," said Drayton. "But I was hoping to get number one all the way through.
"Last year I got third and that was an achievement after coming back from my back injury, I was happy with that.
"I got halfway through this season, saw we had a chance, took it and just put a good head on, planned the rounds and it worked out well.
"I've just got used to the set-up on my bike and the tracks and I've progressed a lot more muscle-wise, so I can throw the bike around a lot more.
"It just seemed a bit easier this year and I gelled with the bike."
The Brumby Engineering College pupil admits he feared his motoracing days were over before they'd barely got started following his back injury.
Drayton had to wear a spinal brace for about two months and couldn't ride a bike for almost half a year.
Still, the determination and resilience which has taken him to the top of the podium was just as much in evidence as he battled back to fitness.
"He couldn't do anything for six months," said Daniel's mum, Kathryn.
"He couldn't even walk to school on his own or carry his school bag.
"He couldn't walk, couldn't play rugby and couldn't ride a bike for six months.
"But he went to school within five days of it happening with his spinal brace on.
"When he had the brace off, he had to work hard to get his level of fitness back. It's just a previous injury now."
Daniel added: "It was a big worry to start with.
"I played rugby as well before I broke my back.
"The doctors said I wouldn't be able to play rugby for two years, then all I wanted to know was, 'can I race again?'.
"They said I wouldn't be able to do motocross and keep constantly jumping, but I explained my sport and they said that would be all right, just take it steady.
"It was hard at first. I knew the reality of it. I knew I wouldn't be able to get about.
"We'd still go to rounds and watching everyone go round hurt me inside."
Having "grown up in the paddock", watching his dad Kevin race, Drayton is eager to stay in the spot.
His long-term goal is MotoGP and will take the first tentative steps towards that by moving into road racing next year.
If it goes the same way as a taster session in the Aprilia Superteen Challenge earlier this year, he could be in for another good season.
At Mallory Park, Drayton came ninth out of 28 riders and third in the Nitro Newcomers class.
"Road racing, I think that's the way forward," he said. "It's a lot different riding style and the bike's a lot quicker.
"Mallory Park is the only one I've been to. I had a go there at the last round of the Thundersport and surprised everyone, and surprised myself really.
"I turned up not expecting much, expecting practice to go okay and enjoy it.
"I finished ninth and didn't even know I'd come third in the Nitro Newcomers. I got in and started to relax and then they said, 'and third in the Nitro Newcomers, Daniel Drayton'. I just went, 'what?'.
"I was over the moon. Mum and dad's faces were a picture. Their smiles couldn't have got any bigger.
"Next year should be good. I'll try to get on as many podiums as I can.
"It will be a very busy winter. I need to get my optimum fitness for next year, it is a big step."