At the age of seven she started racing on a motorcycle, at 16 she became the first and only woman to win the Spanish speed championship, and now she is the only competitor in the world championship. MotoE. We talk about Mary Herrera (Toledo, 1996). On September 18 in Aragon GPwill lead Moto3 the first 100% female team in the history of MotoGP World Championship.
The smallest weight class in the World Cup has a past. Between 2015 and 2017 he competed regularly in Moto3 alongside riders such as Peko Banaya, Joan Mir, Enea Bastianini or Fabio Quartararo who was his partner CEV-. Today they are all MotoGP stars. The big teams didn’t vote Maria the same confidence. The Toledo woman always ran into a wall. “That was my life,” he reflects.
Since she was little, she has struggled to be treated like men. Her successes on the track, even as a child, did not seem like everyone else’s. Everyone was serious when I won. He is referring to the other children’s parents, who were commonly heard to make comments to their children along the lines of “don’t let that girl beat you”.
[Carla, la única directora de un equipo de superbikes: “En motos hay más mujeres de las que se ven en la televisión”]
Now he is fighting for something more important than any victory on the track, which is also because he is only 26 years old. She dreams that the girls who are now starting out in the motorcycle world will not have the same difficulties that she had in her life. So hand in hand Angeluswill compete in Aragon with an all-female team.
His lonely character accompanies him everywhere, for some time even on the slopes. A fan of drawing – he usually designs the number plates and emblems he wears on his motorbikes – he created a pink helmet to support the fight against breast cancer.
Question: How are you, Maria? Are you looking forward to the weekend in Aragon?
Answer: I have finished the Moto E World Championship so I am now focused on racing wild card of Aragon with the all women’s team that will be history. It’s the first time it’s done so I’m very pleased.
How special is this return to Moto3 with the Angeluss project?
It’s like reliving old times. It’s a category I’m familiar with, but it’s changed a lot. People expect great things, but everything has changed. I’m in the big category and I’m doing this for the visibility of this new project with Angeluss.
And nothing, I want to start giving the best, but to show that girls can work well. Both mechanics and technique… An entire women’s team can go well.
In chronological order, how was your passion for motorcycles born?
It was born to me by my father. My father put all the brothers on the motorcycle, I have two more. On the weekends we went with friends to ride on a mini motorbike to a futsal field. And I didn’t stop until I ran out of gas.
I always wanted to win them all and signed up to do my first races. I did well and my father saw that it was not bad and supported me in this sport.
I heard parents say “don’t let that girl beat you”. Later I realized the true meaning of these comments
And she started competing very young… What was it like to do it when you were a girl?
From the age of six… I remember it very well, in the sense that I felt older. I really had no problems with the bike and when I started looking at the pictures I didn’t expect it to be so small.
I saw it like I was playing football. He had a lot of head. I didn’t do crazy things spontaneously and eventually my parents trusted me. It was just a weekend of motorcycle riding. It was fun.
Was she chosen just because she’s a girl?
I listened to comments, but took them well. I didn’t even notice it then. I heard them say “don’t let that girl beat you” and laughed. I thought “I’ll beat him”, I don’t care.
I have heard such things, but until I grew up, I did not understand why they say it, I understood what it means for a woman, a girl to beat a boy. I heard it mainly from the parents, who were the ones who demanded the most from the children.
While winning races, championships… Did those match attitudes continue?
I arrived at the track, everyone smiled at me, and when I won, everyone was serious. When I started to earn, they took me into account and eventually I got along with everyone. This was when I was between 14 and 16 years old. Then when you’re older, well, it’s even more annoying for the woman to win. I do not know why. They never really hurt me [los comentarios machistas]but to them yes that I won.
Why do you think that despite the victory, there is still this barrier for women?
I don’t know why there are so many barriers. Trust is still not 100% with the woman. We need to demonstrate 400 times more that we are valid and what is really needed is just stability: to be in a team that has the weapons to win, to have help to pay for your nutritionist, physiotherapist and trainer like everyone else athlete. And have all the desire just like a man, no more.
I wanted to read you a sentence that F1 CEO Domenicali dropped a few weeks ago: “Unless there’s something like a meteorite, I don’t see a girl entering F1 in the next five years.” What’s your take?
I can talk about MotoGP and I don’t think it’s true. If I have stability, I can ride MotoGP perfectly as a man. I’ve already ridden it and I’ve also ridden the MotoE which is 260 kilos. I mean I can physically do it and they don’t take three seconds off me, but half of it anyway. Such comments are inappropriate.
I could have been in MotoGP with Quartararo or Pecco but my line wasn’t as progressive because of mistrust
In his case, he shared time in the pits and on the track with Fabio Quartararo, the MotoGP world champion. Do you think if you were a man you would have more of an opportunity to compete there with him now?
Yes, he competed with Fabio, with Alex Marquez or Peco Bania. Indeed, I could have been there. I don’t see myself as inferior to them. I can only see that my line is not progressive, but super unstable for what it is. This is distrust. They wouldn’t let me out of Moto3 and I had to find a life.
What conclusion did you come to to explain why the line was not as progressive as that of the other riders?
I didn’t have a strong team in the Moto3 World Championship, so I couldn’t show much of anything. I did very well the first year, but the second year I barely made it. I never got anything that made me really see the potential I had in the Spanish league when I was with Fabio [Quartararo].
There my self-confidence broke a little and I had to look for it in 600. It went fast there, but I didn’t get a competent team for the world either. That’s how my life went. When I got to the World Cup, I didn’t have good teams.
Hence the importance of a bet like Angeluss. How did you get the offer?
I have to say that for example OpenBank bet on me in MotoE. It is true that the first year we did very well, I fought for the podium, but this is a difficult category. If I was in Moto2 I would have done much better.
Speaking of Angelus. They told me they needed to talk to me about a project. They told me that they would only be girls and pave the way for new generations in the days to come. I didn’t expect to be told about Moto3 at all. That pushed me back a bit because I didn’t want to go back to Moto3. Since it’s a race… We’ve only done one practice so it’s going to be hard for me to pick up the pace a bit.
I want women working as a team in MotoGP to be visible
What do you think can be achieved with this?
By having an all-female team, you can see that they are working well and that women working as a team in MotoGP are visible. The result there seems indifferent to me, because this year everyone has been working on the bike for a long time, and I come from a different category, so my potential will not be seen in a race. I would like to be competitive because I am.
Do you see more women working in motorcycling?
Little by little you see more. First of all, I see coordinators. I don’t see so many female engineers, telemetry mechanics, but something else… Little by little it’s going. In particular, there are many more women in charge of coordinating logistics and other matters.
In addition to this project, do you have any other future plans to help integrate women into motorcycling?
This is a very interesting project because they want to pave the way from the smallest to reach MotoGP. If I can put them in the intermediate category and work for the future, reaching the lady category would be amazing.
And to be able to help the little ones at school. I want to make a base where there are girls who don’t have the difficulties I had to find a place. That they have a pass to take steps with a projection that they believe them.