2009 FIM Women’s World Championship runner-up Larissa Papenmeier can perhaps rightfully claim to be Suzuki’s fastest female motorcycle racer. The petite German runs the number 2 plate on her Teka Suzuki Europe World MX2 RM-Z250 and has taken two podium results from four rounds of the seven in the 2010 contest.
“I had a slow speed crash about one month before the World Championship started at Sevlievo in Bulgaria – the same place that the MX1 and MX2 series’ was beginning. It was a silly fall but I broke a bone in my hand and it was a bit of a setback. I carried on riding, and doing the training that I could before going to Bulgaria. In a way the injury helped with my nerves for the race! Obviously I wanted to be 100%, but I went to the GP with little expectations and wanting just to get points. I scored 6th place which was reasonable in the circumstances.
“We had about a month then before our second round and where we would be joining the boys again at Agueda for the Grand Prix of Portugal. I was getting stronger and carried on my training and found time to finish second behind world champion Steffi Laier in the German Championship. Steffi is currently the fastest rider at the GPs but I know that I – and a good few others – are working as hard as we can to catch up and beat her. Germany is well represented in the world championship in which we are competing for the third time now as it began in 2008, for the two years before that it was a World Cup competition. It means that we have a strong national series and that is only good for the future of women’s racing in our country as more people can see what we are doing and maybe more girls will decide to come and have a go.
“We went to Portugal and it was pretty tough. It was my worst weekend of the season because I made too many mistakes. I was also out of luck. We ran our first moto on Saturday afternoon and the second before the MX2 and MX1 races begin on Sunday so sometimes we get two different races depending on the weather. This happened at Agueda and it was very wet for our first run. I had a great start in the mud but Laier crashed in front of me and I had nowhere to go. She also crashed into me again later on! I came away from the GP with 7th and feeling disappointed but not too downhearted. I just wasn’t concentrating.
“We only had one week before round three which was at Bellpuig for the Catalan GP. I like this track and my approach was to make sure that I stayed on two wheels! I found it difficult to get my rhythm at first but I got quicker and quicker and eventually set the fastest lap. I was 3rd overall for my first 2010 podium and I was happy to be back up on the box. I had braided my hair because I had a similar result there with the style in 2009 and the superstition seemed to work again.
“The MX1 and MX2 boys flew off to the USA soon after Spain and while it would have been cool to race in America when I saw the photos and videos from the GP and the nature of the fast and difficult track with big jumps I thought ‘maybe not!’. It seemed like no time at all to the French GP last week and just one week after the race in Glen Helen. Once more we had different weather conditions and the rain on Sunday morning turned the second moto into the worst mud race I had ever done. It was so hard to keep the bike upright and find a way through all the slime, and the mud was very sticky and heavy! For sure I was happy to take another podium with 3rd place. I still need to work on raising my speed in the first part of the race but now I am 5th in the standings and going in a good direction.
“This is my third year riding for the team and a Suzuki. The bike I am on at the moment is Ken Roczen’s 2009 race bike and it is nothing sort of perfect. The handling and the maneuverability I could not ask for more. There was a lot of power in the engine at the beginning of the season, so we had to make that a bit easier for me so I could handle it. The suspension works great and I am with the best crew to make the results I know I can.
“So this is the fourth Women’s World Championship and I think it is making good steps forward because the girls are getting better and quicker. Before there were maybe 3 or 4 of us who could win and I think that group is getting bigger each season. I do notice my profile changing a little bit. I was recently on a German kid’s TV show and I would love to do more media work!
“Victor, my fiancÃ©, travels with me all the time and used to be my mechanic but he had too much on so now he helps me with other ways. We are together a lot, he knows the way I think and how I feel in certain situations. It is really good having him around.”
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