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Why Are There No Female MotoGP Riders? (The Truth)

Over the years, MotoGP has seen a number of very talented riders that have won consecutive World Championships to bring fortune, fame, and glory to their racing teams. But in this high-profile world of motorcycle racing, you may wonder why there are no female MotoGP riders.

There are no female MotoGP riders partly because there are few female riders in the lower divisions of Moto2 and Moto3, but also because the sport is simply less popular with women. About 80% of MotoGP fans are men, and so it’s simply less likely that females will be interested in competing. 

Below, we take a closer look at the reasons MotoGP hasn’t had any female riders, even though there have been successful women in the lower categories, and whether we can look forward to more women participating in the future.

Are Females Allowed In MotoGP?

Females are allowed in MotoGP, but only if they are as skilled riders as the men that they are competing against. The racing teams are only interested in performance and don’t care if it’s a man or a woman that is riding the bike, as long as he or she is the best one for the job. 

Considering the amount of effort and money that goes into the making of a racing team and the research that goes into the motorcycle’s engine and other components, it’s no surprise that rider performance is the most sought-after trait. This means there is no official barrier to entry for females that want to race in MotoGP other than those the men face too, with the main one being talent.

However, clearly there are other barriers that are not official and are instead more societal, and while women are allowed to race in MotoGP, we are yet to see a rider in the 1000cc series.

Why Are There No Females In MotoGP?

There are no females in MotoGP largely because there are few women in the feeder series of Moto2 and Moto3, but it’s also mostly popular with men. MotoGP races are watched by 20+ million fans all over the world, but 80% of those fans are men, with women only making up a fifth of the audience. 

When the number of female viewers is so low, it isn’t hard to understand that MotoGP just doesn’t elicit the same level of interest in women as it does among men. Many other sports share this same level of disinterest by women and therefore lack of women at the top level, and it’s for similar reasons that we don’t see women in F1

Have Women Ever Raced In MotoGP?

No women have ever raced in MotoGP, in terms of the top series with the now 1000cc and formerly 500cc motorcycles. However, several women have raced in Moto2 and Moto3, along with other classes of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the past, such as the 125cc series. 

Taru Rinne

Taru Rinne is a Finnish motorcycle racer that was the first woman to win points in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. She started, like many of the top racers in all forms of motorsport, in karting, and won the 85cc Finnish Karting Championship in 1979. She competed against former F1 drivers Mika Häkkinen and Mika Salo

She first competed in Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 1988. Between 1987 and 1990, she accumulated 25 points from 22 starts. She got into a bad accident at the Paul Ricard circuit in France which ultimately ended her motorcycle racing career. The fact remains that Taru Rinne was the very first woman to score points in Grand Prix motorcycle racing alongside the men.

Tomoko Igata

The second woman to compete full-time in Grand Prix motorcycle racing was Tomoko Igata, a Japanese professional motorcycle racer. From 1991-1995, she raced in the 125cc World Championship, and from 1991-1993 she also raced in the 125cc All Japan Road Race Championship, always finishing in the top 10. In recognition of her motorcycle racing career, she was made an FIM Legend in 2016.

KEY POINTS

• Women can race in MotoGP, but it is yet to happen at the top tier of Grand Prix motorcycle racing

• There have been several prominent female riders in Moto2 and Moto3

• The first two females to race in motorcycle Grand Prix categories were Taru Rinne and Tomoko Igata

Are There Females In Moto2 Or Moto3?

There are currently no females in Moto2, and there is 1 female Moto3 rider, Ana Carrasco. Some of the most famous female names in Moto3 and 250cc motorcycle racing include the likes of María Herrera and Katja Poensgen. Elena Rosell also briefly raced in Moto2. 

Ana Carrasco

Ana Carrasco is a Spanish motorcycle racer who started competing in Moto3 in 2013 for JHK Laglisse. She came 15th in the Malaysian Grand Prix and then followed it up by coming 8th in the Valencian Community Grand Prix. In 2015, she was unable to continue racing in Moto3 due to sponsorship problems. In 2017, she moved to ETG racing to ride in the Supersport 300 World Championship.

She won the 2018 Supersport 300 World Championship on a Kawasaki Ninja 400 to become the first woman in history to win a motorcycle racing World Championship. She is currently contracted with KTM in Moto3.

María Herrera Muñoz

Maria Herrera is another Spanish motorcycle racer who had an illustrious history in Moto3 racing. She was the first female competitor to win a Moto3 race in 2013, and she earned 14 points from 29 starts. In 2015, she represented the Husqvarna Factory Laglisse team on the Moto3 grid. In 2017, she was the only female rider, racing for Team AGR.

She completed three full seasons in Moto3 and won points on eight occasions. She currently competes in MotoE with Aspar, but will take part in the Aragon round of the 2022 Moto3 championship as part of an all-female team with the Angeluss MTA team.

Katja Poensgen

Katja Poensgen started riding motorcycles at the age of four, and her father was the German importer of Suzuki motorcycles. She was the first female rider to qualify for a 250cc Grand Prix race. She had a very short stint in Moto2 for only a couple of years before she was inducted into the FIM Hall of Fame for her Grand Prix racing career.

A Few Others

The female riders listed above are not the only women to have raced in Moto2 or Moto3 as there are a few others, starting from Beryl Swain in 1962, and including Gina Bovaird, Inge Arends, Undine Krummer, and Petra Gschwander. 

As you can see, the total number of female competitors over the decades in Grand Prix motorcycle racing is very small, and work needs to be done to promote the sport among women.  

Is There A Female MotoGP Equivalent?

There is not a female MotoGP equivalent. Unlike in other sports where there is a separate event for women, MotoGP does not have one. The skill of the rider is the main factor in deciding whether they get to compete or not, and so there is no separate series for men and women.

What It Means For Future Women Riders

It is very clear that males have dominated all three classes of MotoGP throughout the years. Of the few females who have raced in Moto2 and Moto3, none were able to make it to the top tier of MotoGP. The number of motorcycle riders that make it to MotoGP is already tiny, and so female participation at all levels needs a substantial boost if we are to see a female MotoGP rider in future.

Final Thoughts

There are no female MotoGP riders because there are few female riders in the feeder series of Moto2 and Moto3. There are a few female riders who have competed and done well in the lower divisions, but the number is very small, and no woman has ever raced in the premier series of MotoGP.