History is stalking the WorldSBK paddock in 2018, from Jonathan Rea’s endless WorldSBK conquer-athon, to this being the final year of the STK1000 championship, and now the sight of the diminutive 21-year-old Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team Kawasaki) securing the second WorldSSP300 Championship ever held - the first to be won by a woman in the history of all solo FIM road racing world championship classes.
This last part, about Ana Carrasco being a woman, is the least important thing for her, but for obvious reasons, it is the biggest deal about the smallest World Championship class in 2018. Or for - at least - half the planet’s population, the biggest racing deal ever.
For Carrasco, winning the title, even in the most dramatic way possible, was all that mattered. But she is also aware that perceptions are different for her than other people.
“I am happy to be world champion, sure, but not like a woman,” she said. “I always think like a rider, but I know that this is important for women coming into this world. If we can achieve these results then the way to arrive for the future girls will be a little more easy. I am proud of this and happy to help in this way. My only goal is to achieve the results like a rider, but for sure it will good if I can help another girl to arrive here.”
The way Carrasco won it, after an outstandingly tense race in dry conditions, is already legend. Qualifying 25th, with front fork set-up problems right up until raceday, she could only watch as the two other potential champions, Scott Deroue and Mika Perez, fought it out (with the usual other ten or so riders) for the race win.
Then Deroue’s gearchange broke, and then Perez lost a last lap lead (which would have given him the title) with only two corners to go. With Carrasco battling her way up to 13th at the flag, and only a few seconds down on the win despite her terrible qualifying position, she won the big prize by a single point.
“I was 25th in qualifying it was really a disaster, because it meant that the race would be more difficult,” said Carrasco. “But we kept working to find a good way on the bike. We had a problem with the fork all weekend. We were trying to find a solution but the bike was not really good so I could not go faster. Today the bike worked really good - so I felt good. I was trying to go in the front but the group was so big and it was difficult to arrive. But finally we could win the title and I am so happy.”
It was breathless drama from flag to flag, and with all the permutations on who was champion, literally corner-to-corner all race, Carrasco had no idea that she had become champion even at the start of the slowdown lap.
“On the first few corners I did not know I had won. I tried to find some big screen to see what it said but I did not see. I did not know I had won the championship. I finally realised when I came to turn 5. I saw all the people and I asked them, “Am I first?” I am so happy because it was really difficult to arrive here. All the year we worked so hard.”
In the male dominated world of motorcycle racing, on and off track, saying to someone that they ride like a girl has always been a put down.
Carrasco subverted the subculture completely with her championship win against all the boys and men in WorldSSP300. As her championship winning celebration T-shirt proclaimed – ‘Ride Like A Girl’.