A 50-year-old woman is in contention to become the first woman ever to win the F2 European Superbike Championship, a historic feat at an all-female team.
The Colombian Tatiana Calderon will race alongside women world champion Amanda de Cadenet in the expanded 2017 F2 season, having spent the last two seasons on the grid on a team full of friends.
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Their unique combination is capturing the attention of F1’s grid men, who may be willing to take note when Calderon, riding a Ducati Valtorro Pramac, leads her way towards victory in Rangemaster, Holland, on Sunday.
“This might take some swallowing, to be honest, but I think we have a shot,” Calderon said, speaking after she smashed through the half-way point of the season with a 27-point lead. “I love a challenge. To be the first female F2 champion would be amazing.
“This is my dream since I was a little girl and this is what I’ve been training for. I know I have the potential. I also think that with my energy and determination, I have a better chance than men.”
De Cadenet is confident Calderon will shine. “I think she is due a victory so I’m very happy she is riding for us,” the American driver said. “I do think she is the strongest girl we have.”
Calderon, who is racing in the Lola 1 Ducati, has shown her mettle this season, scoring six wins, one pole and two fastest laps from 11 starts. She then became the first woman to lead a race since 2010, smashing open the single-seater formula by almost five seconds on her last outing on the track in Corso Della Serra last month.
And she said she loves being the kind of “gypsies” that need to travel down to northern Holland and the much-organised circuit that requires entry the previous Thursday for the first round of the series. “These are sacrifices we made for the moment,” she said. “So we’ll just do what we have to do.”
Calderon put her team up for sale last year but as part of the Buy A Seat promotion, people were invited to register a favourite spot at the team’s base in Belgium, with Calderon saying that the price of the team’s array of bikes was reduced after the direct help of Ferrari.
“My dream was to go to the European Superbike Championship this year,” she said. “However, I wasn’t really sure I could do it because I have been doing so many marathons: triathlons, 100-mile bike rides, running, long-distance mountain biking and now with my championship.
“I didn’t know how much I could run and run and run,” she joked.
Other teams and teams wishing to hire Calderon out in a non-racing capacity have included Formula One’s RACE organisation and Antenna 2, the teams that IndyCar uses for drivers.