IN what is still to this day a predominantly male dominated sport, two female motorcycle racers are pushing stereotypes and fighting for victory after what has been the hardest year of their lives.
Laia Sanz and Ana Carrasco, two names synonymous in Spanish motorsport and fierce competitors in both on and off-road motorcycle racing and regularly beating their male counterparts.
Yet despite both appearing to be at the top of their game in their respective careers, both have had to endure their own individual struggles during 2020 that almost put a halt to their careers.
35-year-old Laia Sanz is a legend in the sport of motorcycle endurance and trial, winning the indoor trial championship 13 times before moving onto competing in the most gruelling race in the world, the Dakar Rally.
She has won the female category in the 8,000km race six out of six times and has recorded a best finish of 16th overall, beating some high profile names in the process
However in the run up to the 2020 Dakar event in Saudi Arabia, Laia contracted Lymes disease from a tick whilst training near her home.
The crippling disease left her bed bound for weeks and impacted her training schedule dramatically leading up to the event.
Despite almost no training, she turned up at the startline and promptly finished 25th out of 147 competitors, claiming her seventh victory in her category, a heavily emotional win on the anniversary of the death of her husband at the event a year prior.
Carrasco swaps dirt for tarmac, and competes in the World Supersport 300 championship, a motorcycle series that pits highly tuned 300-400cc production bikes against one another in one of the most exciting series in the world.
After a stint becoming the first female rider to compete in the Moto3 World Championship, Carrasco moved to WSSP300 and soon became the first female rider to ever win a world title in a professional bike racing series, a feat recently recognised by the King of Spain, who awarded her the royal King Juan Carlos Medal at the National Sports Awards.
In September last year, the 23-year-old suffered two fractured vertebrae in her spine during a testing accident in Estoril, Portugal, ending her season and leaving her fearing for her career.
After being told there was a possibility of permanent damage, Carrascoendured numerous operations and embarked on a vigorous rehabilitation program and after just five months, the Murcia native was back on her Kawasaki Ninja 400 and preparing for 2021.
Carrasco’s motto emblazoned on the side of her helmet reads, ‘Ride Like a Girl’, and in these two cases, that could not be any closer to the truth.
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