WorldSBK commentator Steve English looks back at Carrasco's historic world championship
If there's a bigger story in the world of sports after Magny-Cours, I don't want to hear about it! Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) becoming the first ever female road racing world champion trumps anything else happening around the world because of the precedent.
Europe winning the Ryder Cup, the Madrid derby or anything else paled in comparison to the glass ceiling that was shattered at Magny-Cours on Sunday. By claiming the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship Carrasco made it clear that in motorcycle racing, speed is all that matters.
She was made to sweat it out with her most difficult race of the season, and she stumbled over the line claiming the title in emphatic style; but sport is a world where the “how” is outweighed by the “how many.” Carrasco finished the year with a one point advantage over Mika Perez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) after clawing and scraping her way into the points on Sunday. It was dogged rather than dominant from the champion, and as she came across the line she had no idea if it was enough.
With Scott Deroue's (Motoport Kawasaki) title charge sidelined by a gearbox issue during the race it was left to Perez to try and deny Carrasco. The young Spaniard rode an almost flawless race, but was beaten to the line by Dani Valle (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) who claimed his first WorldSSP300 victory, and with it went the title from Perez' grasp. It was heartbreak for Perez and historic for Carrasco.
The former Moto3 world championship racer came to the WorldSBK paddock last year with a target on her back. She had more experience than her rivals and was a yardstick with which the rest of the field could be judged. Carrasco scored points in every race last year but struggled to compete with the Yamaha riders, and despite a win in Portimao it was a disappointing campaign.
This year however she was consistent with points in every race and her riding was inspired during a mid-season purple patch. Her performance at Imola saw her win by over 10 seconds, and at Donington with numerous former MotoGP™ riders present, they commentated about her ability to ride on the ragged edge. Those two races were the foundation of her championship and showed just how strong Carrasco can be when she is full of confidence and riding as hard as possible.
It was a joy to behold and even though her form tailed off at the end of the season, it was clear that she was racing with the pressure of history on her shoulders. It's difficult to win world titles and for any rider the challenge is to ride naturally even though they know that any mistake could be punished by losing the crown.
Carrasco was able to get over the line and she did it not by “riding like a girl,” she did it by riding like a champion.
Enjoy all the celebrations from Carrasco’s feat in WorldSSP300, and the season’s highlights all with the WorldSBK VideoPass.