MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Carrasco’s remarkable comeback and the sad tale of grand prix racing’s female pioneer
On Sunday Ana Carrasco won a race just nine months after breaking her back. Hers is an amazing story but no more so than the shocking story of the first woman who tried to make it in motorcycle racing
Marc Márquez’s comeback from potentially career-ending injury is a work in progress, but today we can add the name Ana Carrasco to the list of superhumans – most notably Mick Doohan, Robert Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson – that overcame the most hideous odds to keep doing what they love and win again at a high level.
In 2018 Carrasco won the Supersport 300 World Championship and last September suffered serious injuries while testing her Kawasaki Ninja 400 at Estoril. She fractured two vertebrae, luckily without damage to her spine, her luck measured in mere millimetres.
For obvious reasons, spinal injuries are a particular worry for motorcycle racers, but Carrasco didn’t hesitate for a moment. Her immediate focus, just like Doohan and the others, was: when can I get back on a motorcycle?
The titanium support bars and fixing screws inserted to stabilise the fractures were removed in January and the holes left by the screws filled with freeze-dried bone graft to accelerate healing. At the end of February Carrasco started pre-season testing and at round one at Aragon she finished fifth in the second race, three tenths behind winner Tom Booth-Amos.
On Sunday Carrasco won the second WorldSSP300 race at Misano, at the front of a frantic 15-rider lead pack, after Booth-Amos fell at the last corner.
The fact that Carrasco is a woman either is or isn’t significant, depending on your viewpoint, but the 24-year-old from Murcia has certainly blazed a trail for female roadracers.
In 2013 Carrasco made her grand prix debut in Qatar, later that year scoring the first points by a woman in the new Moto3 world championships. After moving into the new WorldSSP300 class she became the first woman to win a round of a roadracing world championship at Portimao in 2017 and the next year at Imola she became the first female to start a world-class race from pole and the first to lead a world championship.
Twenty-nine years earlier, Finn Taru Rinne had become the first woman to lead a world championship race when she led the 1989 West German 125cc grand prix at Hockenheim. She finished seventh, the first female solo GP points scorer. A few years later Tomoko Igata followed in her wheel tracks, scoring more than 125 points, and in 2001 Katia Poensgen became the first woman to score points in a 250 GP.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.