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The young MotoGP trailblazer striving to solve its age-old diversity problem

With incredibly low levels of female participation both on-track and in garages, MotoGP and its feeder series have a serious diversity problem. But one young Italian woman is hoping to change that, and sat down with Autosport to lay out her plans

Aurora Angelucci

Aurora Angelucci

Aurora Angelucci

With no woman having ever competed in a full season of MotoGP or Moto2 – Gina Bovaird remains the only woman to have ever started a premier class race, albeit in the largely boycotted 1982 500cc French Grand Prix - and with just a handful having ridden in Moto3, top tier motorcycle racing can be a difficult environment for women to break into. There are also few women working as mechanics or engineers in the paddock – a common problem across motorsport as a whole.

But Aurora Angelucci, founder of Angeluss Sports Management and team manager of Moto3 outfit MTA Racing, is hoping to change that. Having founded Angeluss aged just 20, she took over at MTA at the start of this season, and is one of just two female team bosses in the paddock alongside Gresini Racing owner and team principal Nadia Padovani.

Having grown up in Rome, Angelucci's love of motorcycle racing was passed down by her father, and was truly ignited by a visit to Misano as a child. But as she grew up, she noticed an absence of women among both riders and technical figures, sparking the start of Angeluss in 2020, which manages young womens’ racing careers.

Though Angelucci’s passion lay in MotoGP, she was forced to look elsewhere for inspiration because she “didn’t have an example” in motorcycle racing. But she persevered, and the beginning of 2022 saw Angeluss become MTA Racing’s title sponsor, before Angelucci took over as team manager from previous boss Alessandro Tonucci at the start of this season.

Through her work with both her own business and managing MTA Racing, Angelucci hopes to help develop talent and give women opportunities inside the garage, working as mechanics and engineers in the top tiers of motorcycle racing.

“I started to follow MotoGP because my father was a fan and I’ve loved it since I was a child, but I really loved it when decided to take me to the circuit in Misano to watch it live,” the 21-year-old tells Autosport at that same circuit. “This started my love for this part. In the following years, I realised there weren’t really women working in the technical side or as a rider. Often there are women, but working in PR or social media. So my idea was to bring more women in as technical figures or riders.

Aurora Angelucci (second from left) became team manager of MTA Racing at the start of 2023

Aurora Angelucci (second from left) became team manager of MTA Racing at the start of 2023

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“On the technical side, there are a lot of women ready to work in world championships, but they don’t have the possibility, so we help them to arrive here. On the riders’ side, we realise there were not women ready to ride in the world championships, so we started an academy in which we help women from when they are really young - we have girls from the ages of eight to 16 - to help them grow and arrive at the same level of the riders already in the world championship.

“This year, we started with the technical figures in the world championship, because there are no riders ready to arrive in the world championship, so we decide to do a mixed team with the MTA team to bring more women into this team. We have [women working on] telemetry, two mechanics, we are the only team in the world championship with women mechanics, and me as the team manager.”

Angeluss now manages 11 young women from across Europe, helping them to find rides in MiniGP and JuniorGP categories, manage PR and develop their skills with the Angeluss Academy. Several of the team’s riders took part in the selection process for the Red Bull Rookies’ Cup - a noted breeding ground for some of grand prix racing's brightest stars. And though they did not make it through to the finals, the fact there are young women even competing for a spot is progress.

“I think [the lack of opportunities] is because there’s never been a woman that’s ridden in the MotoGP category" Aurora Angelucci

She continues: “I started Angeluss as a management company, because I think that women haven’t arrived because they aren’t given the possibility to arrive here. I realised that the rider doesn’t arrive because often sponsors or people don’t give them the same possibility as the men.

“For example, we have a girl that before she knew us trained just one time a month, which is really different to the men. So it’s difficult that a girl grows up at the same level. The idea is to help them train more, to help them to find sponsors and people who they will need on their path to the world championship.”

Angelucci believes the lack of opportunities owes much to the historic absence of female competitors in MotoGP, which means “often, sponsors and the family itself think that it’s only a hobby and can’t be work”. Therefore, she says,“the idea is to create an example to bring more women that can be near this.”

Angelucci herself is a powerful example of what is possible for young women hoping to break into the championships. But she says her age has proved more of a sticking point than her gender: “For me, the most difficult thing is to be young, because a lot of people think I’m not ready to stay here and don’t take me really seriously. So for me that’s the big difficulty. As a woman, I don’t have a lot of difficulty, I think because I found a team that helped me on this and I have a lot of people near to me that are good people.”

MTA's all-female wildcard featuring Maria Herrera at Aragon was an important moment for Angelucci

MTA's all-female wildcard featuring Maria Herrera at Aragon was an important moment for Angelucci

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

A pivotal moment in Angeluss’ partnership with MTA was its Moto3 wildcard at Aragon in 2022, with rider Maria Herrera backed by an all-female team of mechanics and engineers in a series first. Supported by the RNF MotoGP team, who gave technical advice and support to the MTA wildcard entry, Angelucci says the round was “certainly one of the most important achievements since Angeluss was born” as Herrera took the flag 27th.

“It was the demonstration that women can fill any role within the team and many girls wrote to us that the wildcard made them begin to believe that they can work at the world championship,” says Angelucci. “All the girls were experienced mechanics and telemetrists who had worked with mostly male teams. The thing we encountered the most was the fact that they understood each other right away and a strong help from everyone.

“For me it was certainly difficult, but a weekend that made me really happy and gave me so much satisfaction. It was the first time that Angeluss really came to life and that had so much feedback on the outside, it was really so successful and so many girls wrote to us and still write to us that we are an inspiration for them.”

The wildcard came soon after Angeluss became MTA Racing’s title sponsor, and at the start of 2023, Angelucci became team manager. It currently sits fourth in the teams’ standings on 248 points, just 21 points behind the leaders Husqvarna Intact GP. Angeluss rider Ivan Ortola is sixth in the riders’ championship, having won twice in 2023, with team-mate Stefano Nepa 10th.

Though the wildcard was a success, Angelucci says that “for now, our goal is to have a mixed team, because I think men and women work better together. I think women and men work in different ways, so to have both men and women have a good equilibrium that works well. But for sure it can be possible in the next years.”

Angelucci also believes the solution to boost female participation is not to create segregated championships, such as the FIM Women’s World Championship which is planned to start in 2024, but to integrate young women into series such as the Red Bull Rookies’ Cup and the global Talent Cups organised by MotoGP and World Superbike owners Dorna Sports.

She says “there are not a lot of women that are in a good level, and I think if you race against people who are at a good level, you grow more quickly,” adding: “Our goal is to bring a woman to race in MotoGP against Marc Marquez, Fabio Quartararo, the male figures that are important now.”

MTA currently sits fourth in the teams’ standings on 248 points, just 21 points behind the leaders

MTA currently sits fourth in the teams’ standings on 248 points, just 21 points behind the leaders

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Though it is a long-term goal, Angelucci’s sights are firmly set on helping young women reach MotoGP. Not only that, she says her “final goal is that it is normal to have a woman as a rider or a technical figure in all the world championships”.

“We hope that someone of our girls will arrive in the world championships,” she says, “and I think we have different girls that can be ready in a few years to arrive there.”

Is she aiming for the top tier herself?

“I don’t know, it’s not my plan,” Angelucci replies. “My plan now is to follow the girls to arrive there, and in future why not?”

Wherever Angelucci herself ends up, she has already done a huge service to motorcycle racing, creating a crucial programme to help young women progress, whether that’s as riders, mechanics or engineers – and that’s more than a lot of organisations have done.

Founder of Angeluss Sports Management and team manager of Moto3 outfit MTA Racing, Aurora Angelucci is leading the charge to tackle MotoGP's diversity problem

Founder of Angeluss Sports Management and team manager of Moto3 outfit MTA Racing, Aurora Angelucci is leading the charge to tackle MotoGP's diversity problem

Photo by: Aurora Angelucci

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