Organisers of a Chorley school's go-kart racing club are determined not to let cruel thieves run them off the track.

The St Michael's High karting club has been rocked by the theft of three of its vehicles.

And with the second race of the season just days away, it is racing against time to get as many go-karts as it can to the meeting in Cheshire early next month.

The raiders struck at the Astley Road school in the early hours of Thursday.

They got away with three go-karts, leaving three others behind, each worth £400, after cutting through chains used to secure them in a garage.

Team leader David Hull, of Whittle-le-Woods, who runs the club, said: "All the kids had spent the winter building them up for racing. We've got a meeting on April 5 at Oulton Park at Ellsemere Port.

"We will just have to get all the parents together and see what we can do in terms of parts, engines and things like that. We don't know yet."

David added: "We have about 25 pupils involved. The racing season has just started really. We have attended one race on March 1 and won four or five trophies.

"We are all just totally gutted really. We raise money by Christmas fairs and that and parents help out too. I spent Easter moping about."

It is the second time the club has been raided. Thieves made off with four go-karts 18 months ago.

The club, launched in 2000, has hit the road to success since then.

The St Michael's team is a member of the National Schools Karting Association.

Pupils race at more than a dozen meetings a year all over the country, from Cumbria to Surrey at weekends.

"We have been successful and always come away with three or four trophies," said David, who has had posters printed of two of the stolen go karts which he has sent out to hire shops and karting magazines. All three engines in the go-karts are GX 160 Hondas.

St Michael's head teacher Chris Bagguley said the team was "absolutely devastated".

He said: "I think it's very disheartening, they are a very successful team, they have won all sorts of tournaments."

He added: "It was the only part of the school that was broken into. It would seem to me it was someone who had specifically come for the karts.

"The pupils are just absolutely devastated. For a lot of them, they have got a hobby and if they have a hobby, they are not on the streets. They have put a lot of hard work into it and are involved in a worthwhile activity. It's awful."

The incident has been reported to the police.

A spokesperson for Chorley Police confirmed the theft.

He said; "Police are currently investigating this incident which took place at approximately 3.15am on March 20 when three go karts, suits and helmets were stolen from St Michael's C of E High School, Astley Road, Chorley.

"Anyone with any information is asked to contact Chorley Police via Southern Communications Centre on 0845 1253 545."

People can also ring David on 07763 352843.