Women in Motorsport – 2021? What’s in store?

Women in Motorsport – 2021? What’s in store?

Women in Motorsport have risen above challenges posed in 2020 season as consequence of massive disruption COVID-19 has brought to racing. Schedules were cancelled, dates of re-start were re-defined and changes to format were adhered to under strict health and safety regulations.

WMX 2020 winner Courtney Duncan and 3rd Overall Larissa Papenmeier. Photo Credit: MXGP.

Through-out uncertainties, Women remained resolute on keeping goals in sight, facing fear of unknown on when or if Women Motorsport Championships across number of disciplines would even go ahead.

Yes, there were disappointments: WSeries 2020 was cancelled, WMX Rounds were postponed, AMA SX Futures Rounds were not slotted within revised calendar, GNCC WXC took break early in season ‘not quite knowing when racing would resume’.

Planned promotional events to garner additional investment to race Dakar Rally 2021 were cancelled, along with brakes put on renewing sponsorships for next season, when 2020 season wasn’t even happening.

So, how did these Women go back-to-drawing board and figure out how to keep their racing careers alive? It came down to resilience. These Women have been here before, pushing brick walls to gain support to race, knocking on doors which seem oblivious to fact that female Motorsport athletes remain comparable to their male counter-parts in regard to fan pull, viewer watch-time and geographical reach.

Mirjam Pol co-driver Baja Portalegre 2020 Photo Credit: Mirjam.

Backing up statement is based on MXLink ability to produce content in period of ‘no action’. Statistics state to present day MXLink has attracted 1.4 million views and consistently pulled 2-3K New Viewers per month for 2020. Not only does data confirm there is market audience who searches and follows Women in Motorsport, but those figures are growing when supply meets demand.

Content produced derived from Live Chats with Women across varying disciplines straight after lock-downs were in place in Europe, USA, Africas and Australasia. These Live broadcasts provided unique opportunity to share Women’s thoughts and comments on various topics to global audience.

Outcome of Live chats were two-fold. Broadcasts brought together women who held common interest in racing, yet not necessarily in same discipline. And, highlighted fact that females have ability to turn their daily routines on a dime when changes and challenges occur.

Jordan Jarvis FOX M21 promotion Photo Credit: Jordan.

America’s Jordan Jarvis dug deep when AMA SX Futures came to abrupt halt, having spent months training to gain entry in premier event. JJ re-set goals to include preparation for competing AMA National Championships when calendar resumed. NZ’s Rachael Archer took flight back home, when GNCC WXC put hold on Series after Round 3, only to enjoy re-fresh on farm ready to fly back to USA- winning following 5 races.

Disappointment abound when WSeries 2020 was cancelled. Definitely alternative WSeries Esports League gave all women additional experience on racing via SIM as well as provide much-needed source of competitive stimulation when 2021 WSeries was 12 months away.

Italian F3 driver Vicky Piria has since been so busy with car promotions, race challenges and event opportunities, ‘no actual racing’ has allowed time for creative initiatives to flourish. Sabre Cook based in USA was dealt equally hard blow when sponsorship for Road to Indy was put on hold, pushing the tenacious F3 driver to focus on coaching and mentoring young up-coming drivers at home.

WMX Championship Rounds were caught in suspension mode for number of months. It definitely was anxious wait and see when racing would start, how many Rounds and where. Courtney Duncan flew back home to NZ, Kiara stayed home in Parma, Nancy in Netherlands and Larissa put halt to riding til May. All WMX riders had every intention to race, transitional period was taken in stride and focus turned to gaining physical and mental agility when tracks were opened. Full credit to women who developed roles helping and supporting young riders develop their race-craft.

Sara Garcia Baja World Cup Photo Credit: Sara.

Tough challenges loomed for Women competing in Dakar Rally. Yes, thankfully 2020 Dakar was run and completed, with number of Women gaining successful results across categories: bike, car and SSV. COVID-19, lock-downs and postponed World Rallies impacted ability to fulfill planned presentations to attract support and investment for Women planning on racing Dakar Rally 2021.

Never say die attitude of Sara Garcia pushed the courageous Spaniard to maintain physical training, then back on bike when restrictions eased to race Baja World Cup Rounds 1 and 2 in November. Equally, 6x Dakar Rally rider Mirjam Pol re-assessed all plans, engagements and commitments for X number of months, to take up opportunity as co-driver for long-time friend Kees Koolen at Baja Portalegre 500.

Most recent announcement of Kiara Fontanesi racing under GAS GAS for WMX 2021 proves how versatile Women in Motorsport riders are when push comes to shove. Kiara’s ability to nail new contract amidst year of economic uncertainty remains testament on the 6x WMX Champion drive and determination to race as new mum.

From year of uncertainty, to New Year 2021, Women in Motorsport will continue legacy of taking on board all challenges presented to them with passion, pride and whopping dose of humility which all fans will enjoy.

Header Photo: WMX 2020 winner Courtney Duncan Photo Credit: MXGP.

Words: Sharon Cox.

 

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