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‘Luck is for losers.’ Nadieh Schoots on being the Grand Prix’s only female motorcyclist

The Dutch rider talks to Macao News about her favourite bike, being a woman in a male-dominated sport and her need for speed.

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The Dutch rider talks to Macao News about her favourite bike, being a woman in a male-dominated sport and her need for speed.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 8:13 am

Since Maria “Speedy” Ribeiro took to the Guia Circuit in 1956, many female drivers have graced the Macau Grand Prix. But a female motorcyclist had never competed until 32-year-old Nadieh Schoots of the Netherlands arrived in the SAR last year and became the first woman to participate in the Macau MotoGP. 

To be sure, her performances at the Macau GP have not been on par with the rest of her career (last year, Schoots finished at the back of the grid and crashed in the opening lap this year), but she remains undeterred. Nadieh Schoots spoke to Macao News about her love of the sport.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

[See more: Briton’s Peter Hickman wins the 55th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix]

Your parents loved Moto GP. How did it become your dream?

It was never really my dream to do any of this. I just wanted to ride a bike myself and because I was a kid, we thought it was impossible. Me and my family would watch Moto GP and I would be like, “I want to do that.” But we didn’t know there was an option. 

Then we found out about mini bikes and I did that just for fun. It just snowballed from there. I think I didn’t really start to have, like, a dream of racing or road racing until years later after I’d already been racing for a while. It was always just for fun.

What about riding caught your attention? 

I’ve always had a thing for speed since I was about three or four years old. My dad had a sidecar, so me and my brother would be in it. I would often force my dad to go so fast that the wheel would lift and this was when I was, like, really small. 

I think that thing for the speed, to go always faster and make it more exciting – I’ve always had that. And my love for bikes was from my parents.

After riding multiple bikes in your career so far, which one in particular has been your favourite and why?

I think my first 600cc bike. It was the first super sport bike I had and it was a Ducati 749 Rs. The first time I rode it was at TT Assen

It was so special because it was a Ducati factory European Superstock bike a couple of years ago. Then it went to a Dutch Super Sport rider, who I think won the championship with it. 

Our dads were friends and he said, “Look, if you want to give her a good start with the big bikes” – because I went from the mini bikes ride to 600cc –  “then you should get this bike because it’s set up perfectly.” I was 18 at the time and it was more so I knew what a superbike feels like. 

Sadly, we had to sell it because the engine split in half and it was very expensive [to fix]. But still, now I hope that one day maybe I can get that bike back or at least ride it for a bit, because I think it might forever be the most special bike I’ll ever ride. 

What does it feel like to be the first and only woman rider at the Macau Grand Prix?

To be the first woman obviously is special. But for me personally, I try to not put too much weight on it because for me, I’m just one of the racers – I’m not, like, “the female racer.” I’m just one of the racers. And this is something I worked for and earned it.

Nadieh Schoots
The Basomba Racing team ahead of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix races – Photo courtesy of Ramon Basomba

How would you describe the Guia Circuit?

Exhilarating. It’s so special because it’s in the city. We do roads in Europe, but it’s mostly in the countryside. Maybe you go through a small town, but nothing like this. This is amazing. I like it when you go more into the city, and it gets a bit more technical and windy. You have three or four left and right corner combinations that look almost the same. That makes it a bit more interesting than a track where you know exactly where you are all the time. 

[See more: Luke Browning is crowned the Macau Formula 3 champion]

Motorsports have always been seen as a male sport. What’s your take on that?

With road racing and circuit racing, especially roads, there is no reason for women to be separate from men. It is a physical sport, you have to be fit and have endurance. But it’s not so physical that as women, we are disadvantaged to the point where we cannot compete with men. 

And even more so on the roads. Because the more dangerous the tracks get, the more it becomes a mental sport than a physical sport.

There were five female racers at the Macau Grand Prix this year, which is more than before in total. I think that’s amazing. Clearly, something’s changing, especially with cars. But also with the bikes, it’s slowly becoming better and easier for women to come through. I hope it will continue. 

But, for example, with International Motorcycling Federation [Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme] making a separate women’s class will set us back. So who knows where it goes?

What’s the toughest moment in your career so far? 

At the end of 2014, I had a bad crash in the Ducati Cup and broke my collarbone.  I went for an overtake on the first lap. But the guy that I tried to pass, turned in a lot earlier than I expected. So he took my front and we were doing maybe 150-160 kmph.

I went into surgery right away because I was going to travel and train in the United States in the winter of that year.

But after surgery, suddenly my arm wasn’t working. Whenever I stood up, my arm would turn blue and numb. It turns out that after the surgery, there was a big blood clot in the main vein of my arm. I had to take blood thinners all winter, every night for about six weeks. So I really questioned if this was worth it. Because if it is then I don’t want to complain. I just want to fix whatever is happening and get back to racing. But if not, then that’s okay. Better I stop now. And in the end, I decided it was worth it. Since then, overcoming any obstacles has been easier.

[See more: Five female racers you’ll see at the 2023 Macau Grand Prix]

Nadieh Schoots with Basomba Racing owner Ramon Basomba
Nadieh Schoots with Basomba Racing owner Ramon Basomba – Photo by Lei Heong Ieong

What was it like working with Basomba Racing?

I’m happy to be in Macao with Basomba Racing this year. We met briefly a few years ago at the North West 200 in 2018. We started working together in 2021 when they asked me to come race 24 hours with them and it was amazing. I love to work with them and just be around them. They’re very good people. 

Together, we’ve done a few 24-hour races on 600cc. But we would like to move into the 1000 class with the R1 I’m racing. And then from there enter the World Endurance Championship. 

What motto do you live by as a rider?

Luck is for losers. Luck has nothing to do with why I’m here because I worked really hard for over a decade. So I always say that to remind myself to work hard.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 8:13 am

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