“It’s a groundbreaking moment for women in speedway. I’m so proud to be part of this milestone.”
LOCAL girl racer Katie Gordon has hailed Belle Vue’s hosting of the ATPI FIM Women’s Speedway Academy as a “groundbreaking moment”.
The Knutsford ace will be the headline star of the event taking place at the National Speedway Stadium in Manchester on August 4/5th.
Gordon, 18, became the first NORA British Women's Speedway Champion in an unofficial event at the Isle of Wight last year.
Now she will be a headline star of the ATPI FIM Academy and along with other entrants will have tuition from three-times World Champion Jason Crump and ex-British Champion Rory Schlein. Great Britain Speedway Team bosses Rob Painter and Vicky Blackwell plus new Premiership CEO and GP Race Director Phil Morris will also be there to give advice.
Gordon admits that it’s a huge milestone for women in the sport and has been given backing by big female names in motorsport including TV presenters Suzi Perry and Natalie Quirk.
Speaking on International Women’s Day (March 8), she said: “It’s a groundbreaking moment for women in speedway. I’m so proud to be part of this milestone.
“I think it’s been building for a few years. I’ve definitely felt that people are realising that women deserve their place.
“Even just making progress in the British Youth Championship I think made people sit up and take notice that women can win races and compete with the guys.
“Then Celina Liebemann was given a wild card slot in the SGP2 last season and definitely didn’t look out of place.
“But like any sport, to get better we need the opportunities to improve. This ATPI FIM Women’s Academy is a brilliant new venture and I’m very grateful that the FIM have acknowledged our role in the sport.
“I firmly believe this is the start of something really big. Obviously I want to improve personally and my aim is to get a team spot eventually in the National League and Championship.
“But looking at the bigger picture, I just hope we can persuade more women to take up the sport and make a really bigger impact.”
BT Sport MotoGP presenter and broadcasting legend Suzi Perry also congratulated the FIM on the new Academy.
She added: “I am delighted to see this wonderful new venture. Women are now getting so many more opportunities and profile in sport.
“It’s fabulous that this is now happening in speedway. The talent is there and this platform can really help women progress to a higher level.”
Manchester-based Natalie Quirk, a BT Sport MotoGP reporter, added: “This is wonderful news. I firmly believe we can see women make huge strides in the sport.
“Katie Gordon has already proved she can mix it and win races on a youth level. With the backing of ATPI and top names in the sport, all the girls can really push on now.”
The event is open to riders from around the world and all abilities – from beginners to experienced riders aged 16 and above.
Following on from last year’s event in Diedenbergen in Germany that forged close cooperation between the FIM Women in Motorcycling Commission (CFM) and the FIM Track Racing Commission (CCP), the 2023 FIM Women’s Speedway Academy is supported by the FIM, ACU, FIM Academy, CFM and CCP in conjunction with main partners ATPI and Team GB.
The two-day masterclass will cover all aspects of racing from on-track techniques, nutrition and physical preparation to machine maintenance and set-up.
Janika Judeika, FIM Women in Motorcycling commission director: “The commission is proud to support the 2023 edition of the ATPI Women’s Speedway Academy taking place in Manchester in collaboration with the FIM Track Racing commission.
“After a very successful 2022 training event, we’re excited to help even more female riders develop their skills and knowledge in this discipline, and build on last years’ experience to deliver even stronger, more impactful and geographically diverse training.
“Our commission aims to develop the sport and the activities for women – the talented riders, motivated organizers and devoted colleagues make working for this aim a true pleasure! I thank everyone involved in this project and look forward to seeing it come to life in August.”
Armando Castagna, FIM Track Racing commission director, added: “With pleasure and pride, I'm happy to see that the Women Speedway Academy is getting bigger and it is improving fast, we started last year in Germany and we had a very short time of preparation, but we started it.
“Now, it is getting so much interest from many countries and federations around the world, that we decided to put a lot more efforts into it, as it deserves.
“We have partners like ATPI and GB Speedway Team that are supporting it totally, we have Manchester Speedway that is behind it giving a fantastic venue with good organisation, together with ACU, so I'm sure that it will be successful.”
Ian Sinderson, ATPI Chief Executive Officer, continued: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of such a groundbreaking moment for women in motorsport and world speedway. ATPI have been a company proud to seek diversity and inclusion in both business and sport.
“This is a wonderful addition to the speedway calendar. We have been a long supporter of eight-times FIM Women’s Trial World Champion Emma Bristow, this is another chapter in our backing of equality in sport.
“We are excited to partner the FIM Women's Academy at the National Speedway Stadium and anticipate a new era for the sport, starting in Manchester.”
Phil Morris, FIM SGP Race Director and Premiership CEO, continued: “In my role as FIM SGP Race Director, I've worked alongside very high level women officials. We obviously lack women riders at the highest level to complete this circle of excellence.
“Of course this will not be an easy road but this upcoming WSA is a massive step in the right direction to encourage women into speedway.
“I'm very proud to be involved in a small way and I will look forward to this event to see some of the talent on track.
“The key people organising this event are doing an amazing job and I applaud them for this project.”
Vicky Blackwell, Great Britain Marketing Director and Rob Painter, Great Britain Managing Director: “We were absolutely delighted to hear that Manchester will host the FIM Women's Speedway Academy after the success of last year's event in Germany, we are sure that all the attendees will be looking forward to experiencing the fantastic racetrack and academy activities in Manchester.”
Image: ©Taylor Lanning