Claire Lomas thrilled 50,000 motor sport fans today (Sunday) when she embarked on the most dangerous challenge yet of her remarkabkle fundraising career.
The 38-year-old, from Eye Kettleby, raced around the iconic Silverstone track before the latest round of the Bennetts British Superbikes Championships despite being unable to feel the high-powered machine beneath her through being paralysed from the chest down.
She has set herself the task of completing a lap at each of the nine circuits in the series, starting today with the Northamptonshire venue.
Claire, who has raised more than £600,000 towards a cure for paralysis with efforts such as completing marathons in a robotic suit, only started riding motorbikes a couple of years ago, with sessions at the Donington and Rockingham circuits. But most of those she will now ride around are unknown to her, raising the level of risk and the challenge.
After getting rousing applause from the crowd following today’s lap, she said: “It was a pretty amazing feeling.
“It’s very nerve-wracking but it’s worth it and each time I get on the bike I am a little better.”
Proceeds from the superbikes lap challenge will go to the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, to help cure paralysis, The Bike Experience, which aims to get more people on bikes, and The Matt Hampson Foundation, which supports injured sports people,
Claire has been practicisng at speeds of up to 100mph on an adapted Suzuki SV650, with toe clips to prevent her feet sliding and velcro to hold her knees in place.
But for the first Silverstone lap she was excited to be given the use of a stunning white Ducati Motorsport machine. Her next lap will be next weekend at Oulton Park before round 10 of the championship.
Claire was originally planning to ride a lap of the daunting Isle of Man TT course but officials decided it would be too dangerous for her to negotiate the gruelling 37-mile road course and its challenging 227 corners.
She accepted the decision, with disappointment, but has vowed to develop her riding skills to be able to take that TT lap on within the next few years.
Go online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/clairesiomttlap to sponsor Claire or get in touch with her at www.claireschallenge.co.uk if you would like provide sponsorship on her bike or clothing during the nine-lap superbikes challenge.