Ron Haslam Training School for Kids

Twelve years old and lapping Donington on a Honda CBR125 with Ron Haslam's On-Track

Honda has been trying to encourage younger riders onto bikes recently, which is part of the reason for their release of the CBR125 this year - and it's become one of the firm's best selling models.

But that's only any use to 17-year-olds who can ride it on the roads, so has joined up with the Ron Haslam Race School to offer kids as young as 12 the chance to ride CBR125s under the watchful eye of Ron and in the safe confines of Donington Park.

But it's more than just a chance to experience two wheels, it's also about safety. "The On-Track course is mainly aimed at complete beginners, but also people who want to build their confidence, possibly after a long break from bikes," explains Ron. "They get the experience of riding around the track, but we also aim to get new riders out of bad habits before they form, to make them safer riders."

Safety is a big part of the course, as Ron tells us: "We want to teach riders that there are options in an emergency situation, so they don't freeze. Corners have many different lines through them, not just one. If you do go into a corner too fast, you can take a different line, brake; there are loads of options. It's like racing: you have to take a different line if you want to overtake someone. If we can teach young riders to look for options, then they will react automatically in an emergency."

The course starts with a brief assessment session in the car park to make sure the kids are familiar with the bike and aren't going to go flying into the first gravel trap. Then it's out on track for a 40-minute session, during which they ride the CBR125s around the Donington circuit followed by instructors.

If the rider isn't ready for the track, the instructor will keep them in the safety of the paddock until they are confident they can do a lap. The only problem with this is that kids who lack experience may miss out on lapping the circuit. "We know this is a problem," says Ron, "but because we can only allow the 125s out as the only group on track for safety reasons, the start of the day is the only time they can get out. We are looking at other options."

After a quick debrief from Ron, it's back out to the car park. He explains cornering and pupils ride through a slalom of cones and around a corner to practice their technique.

He explains the principles of what the kids are doing and why it will benefit their riding and make them safer. The same attention is then spent on the principles of safe and hard braking.

After around two hours in the car park, it's back to the debriefing room where Ron chats through the day again before giving the kids a goodie bag with stickers and various things to remember the day. Although most seemed more interested in the free meal voucher...

Because the course is still being developed, the Haslams are looking at ways to improve it. If you go, don't expect it to follow this pattern exactly. But if your kid is showing an interest in bikes and you want them to experience two wheels in a safe environment, the Ron Haslam Race School is well worth a call. They are happy for riders of all levels of experience to attend, just let them know when you bell 'em.

Sean Moore

Experience: two years racing a 50cc minibike

"The day was interesting and fun. Ron was a really good teacher and what he said made sense. I learnt a lot, which I will use to improve my riding. Before, I just used to take the corners in one way, Ron taught me to use all the Tarmac and alter my lines around a corner to go faster, which will definitely help in my next race.

The CBR was really easy to use and good out on the track - it's just a shame it was so wet when we did our laps.

I'd really like to do the day again, mainly to ride around Donington Park once more. I would recommend the On Track course to a friend, even if they haven't ridden a bike before."

"Ron taught me to use all the tarmac and alter my lines around a corner to go faster"

Joe Moore

Experience: None, hadn't even sat on a bike before

"I had a really good day. I can't believe I learnt to ride a bike and then managed a lap of Donington within half an hour! It was scary at first, but the instructor was really helpful and after teaching me how to use the clutch and gears in the car park, he said I could do a lap of the circuit. I wasn't so sure, but I trusted what he said and I did it in the end, although my dad had to talk me into.

Ron taught us in the car park and I learnt loads. I have never ridden a bike before so it was all-new but Ron explained everything to me really clearly.

I can't wait to come back and do it all again. I want to ride around the track now I'm more confident riding a bike."

"I can't believe i learnt to ride a bike and managed a lap of donington in half an hour!"

Big Daddy

And just so the grown ups don't feel left out, mum or dad can still hack around the track when junior's finished for the day. New for 2004, the school is running CBR600RRs for its Premier classes, with CBR900RR Fireblades on offer for the Elite riders. The classes cost £245 and £345 respectively.