Fast females take centre stage at ATPI FIM Women’s Speedway Academy

Monday August 7, 2023 at 3:00pm
Fast females take centre stage at ATPI FIM Women’s Speedway Academy

The ATPI FIM Women’s Speedway Academy (WSA) continued its ongoing mission to break down gender barriers and promote diversity and inclusivity within the sport with two days of intensive instruction at the National Speedway Stadium in Belle Vue, Manchester, England.
Staged on 4-5 August, fifteen female riders aged sixteen and over from five countries were treated to a masterclass in all aspects of Speedway. Sessions were conducted by Phil Morris, the FIM Speedway Grand Prix Race Director, along with multi-time FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Champions Jason Crump from Australia and Greg Hancock from the USA.
Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event at Diedenbergen in Germany, the second edition of the WSA featured participants of contrasting Speedway experience with established riders including Celina Liebmann – the first woman to compete against male riders at SGP2 level – in attendance alongside newcomers to the sport.
“It has been very professional and helpful for me to improve,” said Liebmann. “Working with Jason Crump on fine-tuning my riding style has definitely helped me progress. Pushing myself to the limit was fun and important to take the next step. Everyone who worked on this project did a great job and I cannot wait for the next Academy.”
Katie Gordon, one of British Speedway’s fastest female riders, was equally impressed with the level of instruction she received.
“The Academy really brought me along as a rider,” she said. “Having the tuition from some big names was an amazing experience and also learning about what needs to be done in the background will definitely benefit me as a rider going forward.”
With a background in Motocross, motorsport presenter Sophie McGinn joined the WSA as a Speedway novice and enjoyed a very positive experience.

“It has been great trying out Speedway at Belle Vue this weekend,” she said. “I have learnt so much about bikes and the prep that goes into it. Hopefully this can open the door for more females in Speedway!”
Instruction was divided between the classroom and the world-famous Belle Vue shale circuit over both days, although heavy rain on the Saturday meant the schedule was adapted with more emphasis placed on indoor tuition that covered subjects including nutrition and mental preparation.
Following the conclusion of Friday’s tuition, an evening event was held with Crump, Hancock and Morris joined by Belle Vue Speedway CEO Mark Lemon and FIM Track Racing Director and former Speedway racer Armando Castagna.
During the evening WSA partners and supporters ATPI, Great Britain Speedway Team, Belle Vue Aces, Karcher, 151’s, Rentruck, Allied Vehicles, Fuchs Silkolene and the Specialist Risk Group were thanked for their involvement in the project.
Riders in attendance were:
Anastasia Sallee (GB); Bree Etheridge (AUS); Celina Liebmann (GER); Jane Daniels (GB); Julie Harding (IRL); Katie Gordon (GB); Katy Bullock (GB); Lenja Tebbe (GER); Lucy Brooke (GB); Nynke Sijbesma (NED); Patricia Erhart (GER); Rachel Hellowell (GB); Rosie Rowett (GB); Sophie McGinn (GB); and Wendy McAllan (GB)
Janika Judeika, FIM Women in Motorcycling Commission Director, said: “The most important two points from this edition of the WSA are that the women Speedway riders are now more visible to the world and that the discipline is becoming more inclusive. The female participants have really shown what they can do out on the track and have even impressed some of the most experienced experts in the sport. We have been so fortunate to have two World Champions on hand to teach the women. In the near future I am confident there will be more opportunities for women Speedway riders under the FIM. With this momentum we can be excited about the future.”
Armando Castagna, FIM Track Racing Director, stated: “Once again the WSA has been a big success despite the British weather on Saturday. We adapted the schedule to avoid the rain and to ensure that the girls got maximum track time on Friday. There were definitely some tired bodies but lots of smiles too. The classroom sessions on Saturday were well received and already we are looking forward to the next edition next year in another new country.”
Phil Morris, FIM Speedway Grand Prix Race Director, said: “I think it has been a great project. We were beaten by the weather on Saturday, but we adapted and did more work centred around the classroom. I have been very impressed by the standard of riding, especially because not all the riders have come from a Speedway background – we have got people here from Motocross, Enduro, Trial and Road Race. It has been a fantastic event and I hope everyone has learned a lot from it.”
Jason Crump, three-time FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Champion, added: “It’s great to see the level of some of the riders and watch an accomplished rider like Jane Daniels, who comes from a different discipline, get onto a Speedway bike and adapt so well. From the other side of it, Celina Liebmann and a couple of other riders could do a job for the National Development League teams in the UK – I am very, very confident of that. We are not that far away from seeing female riders compete against the males with some level of success.”

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