SCHOOLGIRL Katy Sunter is making her mark in the high-speed world of motorcycle racing.

The 18-year-old from Healaugh, in Swaledale, is one of the top female junior racers in the country.

She is soon to compete in the European Championships and in September, will travel to Italy to take part in the world championships.

In recognition of her achievements, Richmondshire District Council has given her £500 to help further her career.

Katy is in third place in the 2003 British Championships - decided by a final round in August - which follows her success in last year's event, when she finished fourth.

The council's Talented Young Sports Person grant is designed to reward sporting excellence - and her £500 award is well above the usual £200 given under the scheme.

Community leisure officer Hilary Conway said: "We wanted to offer extra financial assistance to help pay for the ever-increasing costs of competing at this level.

"As well as her hectic training schedule, Katy has to undertake a lot of travelling to take part in both national and international competitions."

Katy is a pupil at Richmond School and will take her A-levels next month. She then intends to take a year out to concentrate on motorcycle racing.

She said: "I am delighted to receive this award, which will go towards travelling costs and equipment for my bike.

"I would love to take up the sport professionally and my ambition is to be selected for the British team."

Katy is one of six girls chosen to take part in the Auto Cycle Union Trials Academy - a new initiative designed to support competitors and help with fitness and personal training plans.