BELLA FRANKLIN is a girl determined to be in the fast lane to motorsport glory.

At the age of 12 she is celebrating winning her first championship – competing against the best young karters in the UK.

Bella, from Selaby, near Gainford, County Durham, steered her Cadet 200cc Extreme kart to victory in the Shennington IKR Championships.

A student at Staindrop Academy, Bella dreams of competing as a Formula 1 driver and is following in the footsteps of the likes of F1 legends Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, who both used karting as a launchpad to glittering careers.

Motorsport is in Bella’s blood. Her grandfather is Bob Pope, a former motor racing driver and owner of Teesside Autodrome, one of Britain’s premier karting circuits on the outskirts of Middlesbrough. She took up karting aged eight, but only began racing competitively two years ago.

“Motorsport has been a part of my whole life. I was pretty much brought up on it and now it’s all I want to do,” she said.

During her sprint to the championship title, Bella was a model of consistency – finishing on the podium in six of the seven rounds to date, including one win. The final round of the season is at Shennington, in Oxfordshire, on November 7.

Next year, she will step up to the heavier, faster karts of the Junior Prokart class, competing against drivers aged up to 17.

“I have started endurance race training to build up my core body strength because, at 12, arguably my biggest challenge is the physical demands of racing. But I’m determined that won’t stop me,” she said.

Bella’s grandfather said: “Bella has all the natural driving skills, the courage and determination to succeed in motorsport. Karting is close-quarter racing and that will better develop her skills in terms of observation, reaction time and the reading of race conditions, and prepare her to realise her ambitions for the sport.”

As well as main sponsors Trucks and Tractors, in St Helen Auckland, County Durham, Bella is backed by NRG (Teesside) and is in training to compete in her first Le Mans-style 24-hour endurance race as part of the four-strong Teesside NRG karting team, alongside fellow young karters Lizzie Mentier, Gracie Mitchell and Isabella Stansmore-Wilson.

On Thursday, Bella will give a demonstration of the karting skills when Teesside Karting hosts a free open day designed to encourage more young girls into the sport and even take a kart for a spin around the circuit. The open day is from 9am until 1pm, is completely free, but youngsters must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 01642 231117 or go to