HER STORY: meet Roberta Ponziani – "Everything came quite naturally to me straight away…"

With the FIM Women’s Circuit Racing World Championship back in action at Donington Park for Round 2 of the inaugural season, now’s your chance to get to know one of the competitors a little better. Roberta Ponziani (Yamaha Motoxracing WCR Team) discusses her motorsport journey, competing in WorldWCR and much more.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS: a rider discovers her passion

Like many young riders, Italy’s Roberta Ponziani first fell in love with racing by riding minibikes as a child, even if her family were not previously so passionate about motorcycles. Now that the Ponziani clan have an elite level competitor in their ranks, they are her biggest supporters and have truly caught the motorbike buzz. The Italian said: “It was with a minibike; everything came quite naturally to me straight away. I was nine and I was with my father. There was a minibike track near my house, and I asked my father to let me try riding the bikes. The first reaction was, ‘No, it’s just for boys’, but there was a girl riding, who was the daughter of the owner of the track. So I said, ‘If she can ride, then I can too!’ So, I started to ride like that, later he bought me a minibike and I started racing. I was lucky because that track was only there for about one more year and then it closed, so it was just good timing to start!”

A DECADE OF RACING EXPERIENCE: lots of success in Italy

After those formative years practising on the minibike, Ponziani began racing at the age of nine. Then at 11 years of age and as the only female in the category she won the Italian CIV Junior Championship for minibikes in 2014, taking the title again in 2015. In 2016 she raced in the CIV again and in the Yamaha R3 trophy until 2019. Since 2020 she has raced in the Women’s European Championship, finishing in third place four times. She comes into WorldWCR as the reigning Italian Women’s Champion.

MARCO BEZZECCHI’S PRAISE: “a very good rider, we had some battles when we were younger!”

During her time racing minibikes Ponziani competed against the likes of MotoGP™ winner Marco Bezzecchi. He says: “She’s a very good rider, we had some battles when we were younger. It wasn’t easy for her because she had to fight a lot of people that were quick, but she defended herself well and fought hard. She never gave up. I admired her for this.”

ONE TO WATCH: quick in testing, rapid on home soil

Given her background of racing such seriously quick rivals on the competitive Italian domestic scene, Ponziani is expected to be a strong contender in the inaugural 2024 WorldWCR season. She kept her rivals on alert in pre-season, by finishing in P2 at the Cremona test and being in P5 after the first WorldWCR round on her home ground.

PONZIANI’S BACKGROUND: “I’ve been riding for 20 years and I think everybody knows me there”

Discussing her racing background, Ponziani said: “When I was young I didn’t feel so different. When racing against boys I always felt comfortable. I didn’t have problems. In Italy I think I’m the only one, I’ve been riding for 20 years and I think everybody knows me there.”

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS: favourite riders, the job outside of racing and inspirations

Why was motorcycle racing the sport you chose? “I love the feeling when you ride motorcycles, the adrenaline. I can’t explain it. I feel good, I want to be faster, I want to improve every day.

What do you do aside from racing? “I work in the family pastry shop.”

Who is your favourite rider? “Valentino Rossi.”

Who is the female athlete that inspires you the most? “Kiara Fontanesi.”

What does it mean to you to be competing in the historic first ever WorldWCR season? “It’s beautiful. I’m very excited and honoured to be the only Italian representative and I’m ready to give my best!”

What is your goal for this season? “Winning the first ever Women’s World Championship.”

What advice would you give to young girls who aspire to compete at the highest level in riding? “Never give up and always believe in yourself.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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