Motorcycling legend Maria Costello MBE is pairing up with Kirsty Hauxwell for her sidecar debut at the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship at Oulton Park this weekend.
The Costello / Hauxwell pairing will be the first all-female sidecar team to join the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Championship and they will be hoping to compete in the 600CC Cup under the banner of the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team.
Road Racer and TT veteran Maria tried her hand at sidecars in New Zealand a few years back and had been wanting to race on three wheels ever since.
She said: “I have been fascinated by sidecars for some time. They are beautiful pieces of engineering. But most importantly, I love the idea that two people have to work together to get the machine around the track.
“The rider and the passenger each have a specific job to fulfil but they have to do so in perfect synchronicity to become a good sidecar team and they do this with no means of communication between them. It is a unique experience.”
While they may be the first all-female team in the Hyundai Heavy Industries championship, Costello and Hauxwell are not the first women on the track. They will be in the company of the likes of Shelley Smithies, Carol McBride and Julie Canipa, all three successful passengers in mixed gender teams.
Maria added: “Motorcycling is still a very much male-led sport but sidecar racing seems to be easier for women to get into.
“The sidecar paddock is also very welcoming and the other women have been hugely helpful, willingly sharing tips and advice.”
Her passenger, Kirsty Hauxwell, has been racing for some time with her family. She said:
“When Maria approached me I was shell-shocked at first but I quickly realised what an amazing opportunity it was.
“Being the first all-female team is both exciting and daunting. It is scary to take on this male-led sport as two women but if we do well, we will be trailblazers and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Maria’s start of the championship was delayed due to contractual issues so this will be the first time the pair will get to compete together.
Maria said: “We have a huge challenge ahead of us. As it will be our first time together, we will have to get to know each other at high speed.
“We both want to go out there and enjoy ourselves on the track. That is the priority.
“We get to practice on the Saturday and hopefully we will qualify on the Sunday so we can race on the Monday.”
Maria concluded: “I’d like to thank my sponsors who are supporting me in this new venture: Cool Milk, NGK Spark Plugs, Bike Shed, AEJ Management Ltd, Rock Oil, CPL Print Ltd, Knox, Arai, Nitron suspension, Mac Tools, Pagid brake pads, Proline Specialist Finishing Ltd, Signs2Wraps, Jap4Performance, Premier Bodyworks, Radicool, Pro Grip, Pro-Bolt, Gear leathers, Hel Performance, Hello Market and AVON tyres. Thanks to their help, this opportunity has been made possible.
“I would also like to give a special thanks to Maureen at Gear Leathers who is working round the clock to make Kirsty’s leathers at short notice.”
Round two of the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship will take place at Oulton Park from 29th April until 1st May.