Last year saw Ana Carrasco hit the headlines by becoming the first female rider to win a motorcycling world championship.
For 2019, the 22-year-old from Murcia is set to defend her World Supersport 300 title. The former Moto3 runner stays with Kawasaki, riding the Ninja 400, but moves to a high-profile satellite team as a team-mate to factory world superbike riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam.
Ahead of the first round of the season, which kicks off at Spain’s Motorland Aragón track in Alcañiz, Insidebikes sent Marc Michon to Barcelona to meet with Ana and her team boss Jordi Caparrós to find out what she’s expecting from the year ahead.
So it’s “back to school” for you next weekend. What has the pre-season been like and what changes have their been to your preparation programme?
Well it’s been quite hectic! We’ve been getting to know the new bike, but there’s also the fact that we’ve relocated to Barcelona in order to be closer to the team, which will really be a plus for me. Other than that, my pre-season preparation routine hasn’t changed that much; when something works for me I try not to change it.
And now that you’re in the Barcelona area, will you be acquiring the cycling bug, like so many other top-level racers?
Oh, I don’t know. I’ve already been out on a couple of rides with Aleix Espargaró, which knocked the stuffing out of me, to be honest! But I have started doing more motocross and off-road riding, mainly at the Rocco’s Ranch facility.
Has the fact that you’re the defending champion changed the way you’re approaching the coming season?
Obviously, there’s a bit of stress, but we try not to think of it too much; I find that ignoring causes of stress like that helps us to focus on what we have to do, which is to race and win races. The fact that the team is really built around me for this season is also helping to avoid that sort of stress and pressure.
Let’s look at the 2019 season that’ll be getting under way next weekend. This season there are a lot of riders signed up for the Supersport 300 championship; have you already identified one or more who might be your closest rivals?
It’s difficult to say now. I think that’s something we’ll be able to consider after the first practice session; honestly though, I think it’ll pretty much be the same top ten riders as last season, guys like [Marc] García, Robert Schotman, Mika Perez, even if the rule changes for this season mean that the racing might be closer, with bigger groups of riders trying to race for the same position. So we could have 15 or more bikes all fighting for the win rather than just ten bikes last season, which was already a lot! But we’re looking forward to it.
That said, will you try to make a statement right from the get-go and aim for the win in Aragón?
[laughs] Well, of course, when you’re a racer you want to win all the time, but we’re not necessarily going to want to go for a “win-or-bust” scenario. Aragón is the first race of the season, lots of things are new and I think the important thing for us will be to get a good race result. If it’s a win, all the better, but we mustn’t put ourselves in a position where we could make errors that may have a negative effect on the entire season. So I think that Aragón will be a sort of shakedown run.
Apart from Aragón, which one could consider as Provec Kawasaki’s back yard, are there any other tracks that you’re really looking forward to racing?
Hmmm… to be fair, all the tracks we’ll be racing this season are really good, and naturally my two home tracks are important for me, but I am looking forward to racing at Donington, Imola, Misano. But we can’t really point to one track that we love above the others.
I suppose that you’ll be looking forwards to returning to the Losail night race, something you’ve already experienced when you were racing in the Moto3 championship.
Yes, absolutely, because it’s totally different to any other race during the season. And if we can reach the Qatar round leading the championship, then all the better!
Watch Ana racing as part of British Eurosport’s live Carole Nash sponsored Superbike World Championship coverage throughout this weekend.