Kane quick to win respect
Loughbrickland's Natalie Kane finished second in last year's Women's World Motocross Championship, but despite the extent of her achievements, the 21-year-old gets little or no recognition for his efforts in comparison to local tarmac World Superbike stars, Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty.
This year Kane, who is based in Belgium, will remain in the hugely successful HM Plant KTM UK team, owned and run by bashful Crossgar businessman Roger Magee.
Her first world championship event takes place on Easter Monday (April 1) at Valkenswaard in the Netherlands.
She took time out from his practice schedule in Belgium to explain to the Belfast Telegraph readers, her plans for 2013, and how unlike the men, it's difficult to make ends meet for the ladies – even at the very highest level.
"I'm heading to England today to collect my 2013 HM Plant KTM UK machine for the first race in two weeks' time," said Natalie.
"My uncle has lent me his camper, so when I'm not training, riding or sleeping, I'm driving from practice track to practice track or to whatever race circuit we are attending."
This is the first year in five that Natalie has started a season injury free [fingers crossed] and she was keen to thank Roger Magee for his continued support in her quest for that ultimate prize.
"This is my job now and all I've ever wanted to be is world champion," she added.
"I think I've proved I'm good enough to be up there challenging after finishing second last year, and Roger has stuck by me and also believes I can be world champion, which is very encouraging.
"It's not about the money for me but you do have to live and make ends meet, but with no prize money I've got to be reliant on bonuses and personal sponsors."
Magee's team lifted the MX1 and MX2 British championship titles last season with Kevin Strijbos and Elliott Banks-Browne – a British first – and with Natalie taking second place in the Women's World Championship, they were rightly awarded the Adelaide Insurance Team of the Year accolade in Belfast back in January.
This season Natalie will go back to taking on the men at MX2 British Championship level, which she was more than successful at in her youth racing days.
No female competitor has ever scored points on the hugely competitive British adult scene, but as expected, the five time Women's British champion has her sights firmly set on changing that statistic.
"I'm looking forward to it as I rode with the boys all through the youths and they were very aggressive," she laughed.
"But I believe that's what shaped me into the rider I am today.
"The goal is to be top twenty and score points, and obviously stay injury free, but I'll not be doing a full season, just a few rounds."
Natalie was the inaugural winner of the British Women's Motocross Championship back in 2007 and went on to win it in consecutive years all the way through to 2011.
The series was dropped last season but is back on the 2013 calendar – but with a strange format, as she explained.
"I think they are going to run it at Foxhill in June," added Natalie.
"It will be a two day meeting for the ladies with five races deciding the British champion – so I'll be looking to take my sixth straight British title."
Until then Natalie will be continuing to prepare herself at her Belgian base – and doing her best to communicate with the locals in her finest Ulster Flemish accent.
And who knows, come September, she might just steal the headlines from Messrs Rea and Laverty as Northern Ireland's first two-wheel world champion of 2013.