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ASBK Women Aiming For The Top – Part 2

Part 2 of 3 of our feature story on 5 gifted women competing in the mibike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship YMI Supersport 300 class.

What advantages do you have? What disadvantages do you have?

Laura Brown –  Advantages, most of the riders out there now are often half my age, who all have dreams of MotoGP, so keeping a cool and mature head to think and analyse risk versus reward and stick with my race strategy at all times is definitely an advantage.  I’ve also broken 33 bones competing in this sport, so I would say my biggest advantage from those personal setbacks is my determination and grit.  No one can ever accuse me of not being as tough if not tougher as any of the boys. Disadvantages, because I have had a lot of injuries compared to some of the riders I compete against, I am always very conscious of rider safety, therefore I do tend to hold back on any dive bomb moves that I feel could put another rider in danger. I am a very clean racer and I do feel I may have done better at times if I’d just thrown caution to the wind, however I never want to be responsible for causing injury to a fellow competitor.

Laura Brown being chased by the hungry YMI Supersport 300 pack

Hannah Stewart – I’m new to the sport so I have advantages in my racing skill and I haven’t picked up bad habits. Disadvantages I’d say only one which is I haven’t had the chance to ride all the tracks over East.  I’m the youngest female in the ASBK this is an advantage as I have youth on my side, and I don’t lose my stamina. I train hard and ride motocross which keeps me extra fit. 

Tayla Relph – I often make it pretty clear that being a female offers no disadvantages or advantages to the sport and I believe that this is a stigma that needs to be eliminated.

Stephany Kapilawi-James – At the ripe old age of 33 my advantage is I’m not going to be growing anymore – I hope not sideways either – so it’s always an advantage when you’re a featherweight. The only downside is as you age, things do break easily, and recovery is not so quick. Some days you feel the aches and pains but that’s what makes us motorcyclists different to the rest, our pain barrier is phenomenal. And when you live to ride, you won’t care about anything that’ll stop you from riding except when the corona comes around and shuts the whole entire country down.

Keegan Pickering –There are some advantages, for example media and promotion purposes, but there is not much difference between gender at all. Personally, growing up in the sport I don’t see myself any different from the guys.

What would you say to young girls to encourage them to join road racing?

Laura Brown – The hardest step was making the first one. Luckily, I had a friend to help guide me. I would advise any girls/ladies who wish to give road racing a go, to reach out to someone already racing, such as myself, or any of the other girls or boys.  At the end of the day we all love this sport with a passion and promoting it by helping new riders get involved is the best thing we can do. We are always happy to help. 

Hannah Stewart – I would tell young girls to have a go and get into the sport. The thrill of road racing is the best. It keeps you focused and motivated and pushes you to be a better person. You also get to meet some great people in the same frame of mind.

Hannah Stewart in action at Phillip Island earlier this year

Tayla Relph – It can be daunting at first, when I started, I was the only female and I was certainly slow. But my love for the sport and my persistent attitude kept me going and has gotten me to where I am today. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Stephany Kapilawi-James – Don’t be afraid to take that leap. If you are not afraid of fear, than this is the sport for you. Crashing will send that fear in your system and if you’re willing to get up again and again and again and again, for so many times then that’s the hardest obstacle you’ll ever conquer. Giving up is not an option, after that, everything gets easier.

Keegan Pickering – To young girls wanting to race, I say reach out and get connected with the females competing. I know we’d love to give you advice and assistance in starting your road racing career.

Keegan Pickering coming out of Siberia at Phillip Island

What exercises are you doing to stay fit and any advice for other riders who – particularly younger kids – that may be sitting at home not knowing what to do regarding training and staying mentally positive at this time?

Laura Brown –   My day job is a full-time veterinarian and we are classed as an essential service, so my down time is probably not as large as some of my younger competitors. I am however experiencing the down time regarding training on a motorbike and my bike fitness. I think in terms of not riding or racing is the worst part the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are having on me. I try to keep my mental and physical health fitness as high as possible by exercising, cycling and running. Even when I do not feel like it and I know I have an 11 hour work day in front of me, I still push myself to get up and get out for a run with the motivation and mental image of racing again soon in my mind. 

Hannah Stewart – The positive in this is it gives me an opportunity to train even harder and be ready for the season. I box three times a week to keep my cardio up plus I cycle 40km twice a week. I eat healthy and love my morning smoothies.  My advice to younger kids is to get online and check out training apps and get out in the fresh air and get some vitamin D. Set reasonable goals which are mentally and physically reachable. And be happy, that’s important. 

Tayla Relph – I have been dealing with chronic health issues over the past year that I have been ignoring that ultimately ended me up in hospital for an emergency procedure a few days ago. But we have an answer to all of that now, so I am thankful the ASBK season is on hold as it’s giving me a chance to put my health first and get my body under control. So, I guess my take-home message from that would simply be to put your health first during these times?

Stephany Kapilawi-James – I’m grateful that I still have a job to go to, so I’m not totally stuck at home. My training regime usually involves weight training to maintain muscle strength but with the current situation we’re in, you have to improvise a little. I just try to do whatever I can, go running, cycling and body weight. I go by the rule of 100 reps per day consisting of push ups, squats, core strengths and dips. Do anything to keep yourself moving, but with all this exercising you’re doing, you have to eat well which is key to recovery and keeping the weight off.

Stephany Kapilawi-James has double duties each race weekend competing in both the YMI Supersport 300 and MotorsportsTV Supersport classes

Keegan Pickering – I’m not going to lie it’s been super tough to stay motivated. Some days I’ll exercise for hours and hours on end and other days I’ll sleep for hours on end. I think as long as you stay consistent and eating nutritiously to maintain your fitness, that’s the best option right now. Also do things that are positive for your mindset, that you’re passionate about. It’s easy to get caught up in your own head when you’re unproductive, just keep doing things you love and take time for selfcare, mentally and physically.

Who is your sports idol and why?

Laura Brown – In the motorcycle racing world, we all love the big names and the bigger characters, especially all the Australians. However, for me personally, my long-time mentor Warwick Nowland, is definitely someone I look up to. Warwick started racing later in life and he achieved so much at very high levels of the sport, including two World Endurance Championships. To be a World Champion in any sport is an achievement, and Warwick channels that same ambition to succeed and his vast experience into continuing to develop and help young talented riders with their racing. 

Hannah Stewart – My sport idol is Jack Miller because he’s so determined and has the same goals as me.

Tayla Relph – Maria Herrera (Former World Supersport 300, Moto3 rider) and Ana Carrasco (first female rider to win a World Championship – 2019 World Supersport 300 Championship) for obvious reasons.

Tayla Relph (28) snatches the inside line leading into the final turn at Phillip Island

Stephany Kapilawi-James – Well that’s easy, Valentino Rossi because he’s a consistent rider at all levels even at the age of 41 he’s still winning races and beating people half his age.

Keegan Pickering – I can’t think of one. I think over the years there’s been so many people who have influenced my racing career and every person has contributed something different. I think everyone will be an idol for something at some stage in my life.

Part 3 and the final part of our feature story this week will be run on Friday, April 24, 2020

While the ASBK is currently in a pit stop due to COVID-19, make sure to stay up to date with the latest news on the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented by Motul at as well as Facebook and Instagram 

Pictures by Russell Colvin