Being the only girl on the MoreBikes.co.uk editorial team, I was in pole position to try out Maria Costello’s female only track day at Donington Park.
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It was the first of three dates throughout the year, offering women a chance to get on track with no boys allowed. The days are run in conjunction with No Limits Trackdays who put on a whole host of events throughout the year at various tracks – not just in the UK but Europe too.
Maria has teamed up with Donington Park this year to give the ladies chance to ride the iconic undulating track near Derby.
“My aim is to see more women improve their riding skills by using the track as a controlled coaching environment. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response and feedback I’ve received from all the women who attended my previous events, saying how much their confidence had improved riding on the road.” said Maria when asked about the track day.
The days aren’t just aimed at track nuts – they are for women of all abilities. Speaking to other ladies on the day, many of them hadn’t had their licences for long and were taking to the track for the first time.
“I’ve had my licence for two years but had an accident just two weeks after I passed my test. This is my first time back on the bike since then – my boyfriend bought me this day as a surprise present.” said a very nervous Melissa Hook from Derbyshire.
Riding behind Melissa on track in the intermittent rain and wind, I was so pleased for her. She was getting to know her bike and building up her confidence – before today, she didn’t even like taking it on and off the stand by herself – and her furrowed nervous brow turned into a smile throughout the day. Would she have done a mixed track day – no she wouldn’t. What’s her plan now?
“I’m going to get back out on the road and get some experience. I think I’ll come back and do another track day later in the year too.”
I’ve done a few mixed track days and I’m used to riding on track with both men and women. It could be said that I’m not a massive ‘girly girl’ – no surprises there – but it was a great atmosphere and gave women who prefer the support of other ladies a chance to get out on track.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a complete ban on boys, spectators can come along and it was lovely to see the garages full of supportive partners and friends.
There were seven 20 minute session throughout the day – so there’s plenty of track time. The first session incorporated three sighting laps and included showing riders how to enter and exit the pits correctly. There was no pressure either as riders could sit out of sessions to have a rest or to avoid the inclement weather.
Maria was milling around the pits and speaking to everyone – she headed out on track too, tapping the rear of her BMW S1000RR to signal for you to follow her lines, she’d wave you past and the follow you too, before shooting off to coach someone else and finding you later in the pits to give you feedback. Along with the other guest instructors and fellow attendees, there was always someone on hand for advice or to chat to.
There were additional services on the day too, including track photography, bike hire, suspension set-up and mechanical and tyre assistance.
At the end of the day, there was a presentation of certificates for all those who had ridden on track and special awards for those who had made the ‘biggest’ progress recommended by their instructors.
Like the sound of it and want to try it for yourself? Future dates in the diary are July 15 and October 14 and they cost £199. Book online at: www.nolimitstrackdays.com/womenonly or by calling 01727 827794.
Images: Gary D Chapman