Nearly two years have passed since pioneering motorcyclist Ana Carrasco erected a pink flag emblazoned with the words ‘Ride Like A Girl’ on the back of her Kawasaki Ninja 400. It was for her lap of honour on the French circuit of Magny-Cours, where the then 21-year-old made history as the first woman to win a world motorbike world title, having triumphed by a single point in the Superbike Supersport 300 Championship.
It is little wonder her fairytale story has been made into a documentary which premieres for free on Rakuten TV on Thursday, just days after Carrasco suffered two broken vertebrae at a testing crash last weekend at Portugal’s Estoril circuit.
Hello all! My move to Barcelona was perfect and I’m already in the best hands! Waiting for the results of the last tests and eager to recover as soon as possible! Thank you all for the amount of messages and support I’m receiving! We will come back stronger!😄💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/RSvZhAQFG6
— Ana Carrasco (@AnaCarrasco_22) September 13, 2020
The untimely incident has ruled her out for the remainder of the season – Carrasco was sitting in fifth place with three rounds to go – and serves as a stark reminder of the steely resilience required for motorsport: Carrasco has broken her elbow, collarbone and shoulder all while competing.
Those injuries are chronicled in Ride Your Dream, which tells the extraordinary story of how Carrasco, from Murcia in south east Spain, became an overnight sensation after her iconic 2018 victory which would see her permanently adopt the phrase ‘Ride Like a Girl’ as her motto.
“In Spain, they use the phrase ‘ride like a girl’ as if it’s something wrong,” Carrasco told Telegraph Sport over Zoom, a week before her crash. “That was the best moment to do it. I rode like a girl, and won the championship. I felt proud, because it was important to show everyone that we’re not different, that a woman can compete in a man’s world.”
Carrasco has spent her entire life on a motorbike, ever since first climbing onto a minibike aged three. Her father, Alfonso, an experienced motorbike mechanic, watched his daughter excel on two wheels and by the age of 14, she made her debut in the Spanish Championship.
“At that point, I thought, ‘Maybe I will have the opportunity to compete at World Championship level,’” said Carrasco. “I always dreamt of being a rider in MotoGP. I went racing as a child to have fun, but that’s when I knew it could be a professional career for me, and no longer a hobby.”
The significance of being a woman in a male space is not lost on Carrasco, who made headlines in 2014 when she arrived on the grid at the Dutch MotoGP with a male model, naked from the waist up, who stood over her with an umbrella and served as her own ‘Grid Boy’.
“It’s still almost all guys racers on the grid, but I try to achieve my goals like any other rider, not like a woman,” said Carrasco, who maintains she has never experienced sexism in motorsport and is happy to go by her nicknames of ‘Lady Gas Gas’ and ‘Pink Warrior’.
“Every time we achieve something we’re helping others to have more opportunities. A few years ago, everyone said a woman couldn’t win. Now, people know that that’s not true. In the future, we’ll see more girls compete at the higher level.”
Carrasco is counting herself among that group. Her hopes of contesting a second SSP300 title might be over for this year, but she is determined to keep breaking barriers. “In four or five years, I would love to compete in the top class, perhaps in Superbike or MotoGP,” she said. A woman is yet to compete at either level.
What does she hope her documentary will achieve? “The message we want to share is that nothing is impossible,” said Carrasco. “Not just in sport, but in every area of life.”