Belfast Telegraph

North West 200's only female rider: Maria Costello setting the pace for women bikers

By Rebecca Black

Meet Maria Costello - the North West 200's only female rider.

Maria (40) from Northampton has built a bike specially for the race this year and said she loves the event because of the enthusiasm of fans here.

This is her 10th time competing at the North West 200 and she says she is aiming for a podium finish.

"I love it over here," she said.

"The people and their passion for racing, and also how welcoming they are. I get great support.

"I built this bike especially so that I could race in the supertwins class which is big over here. It cost me a fortune on the fares but I love it."

Maria has been racing since she was 19, and counts herself as a quarter Irish because her grandmother hailed from Cookstown in Co Tyrone.

"I don't really know why so few women are involved, I'm just doing what I like doing," she said.

"It's probably due to society and how boys and girls are brought up differently. It's more common for a guy to be introduced to motorcycle racing. I came across it by accident, other girls in the sport came across it through a family member."

Maria said the highlights of her career so far were becoming the first woman to stand on the podium in a race around the Isle of Man and getting an MBE.

She has also been a stunt double in a number of films for Reese Witherspoon, Christina Ricci and Tamzin Outhwaite.

It has been a painful journey and she has broken 24 bones, but the danger doesn't put her off.

"No, I would have given up a long time ago, it's part of the job, unfortunately," she said.

"My family don't come to watch me racing. My father is no longer alive and it would be far too stressful for my mum, but she totally supports me"

Maria said women in the sport were also supportive.

"I am involved with the women's motorcyclying foundation," she said.

"That's all about supporting other women in racing.

"I'll keep on racing as long as my body lets me."

In Pictures: North West 200 - schedule, events and results 

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