In September 2014, Ash De Bakker sat on a motorcycle for the very first time. It was love at first sight! Within about a month she found herself at a race track, not initially with any intention of racing but to have a great time and to get some formal training. She realised early on that motorcycling would be far more enjoyable if she was good at it, and so she started her initial training with motoDNA where Ash fell wildly in love with the track. She went to as many track days she possibly could and learnt from those who would give her their time and guidance. Soon riding became an addiction for Ash, who was coached by some of the best riders in Australia including Mark McVeigh, Pete Goddard, Linden Magee and Kelvin Reilly (BC Performance).
Ash explains: "Racing has always been in my blood and my family have always been involved in some form of motorsport. The smell of racing fuel on a Sunday morning is what makes me tick. So to start racing probably was a fairly natural thing for me to do."
Ash is still a passionate road rider and a strong advocate for rider safety. There are inherent risks we face as riders. It is our responsibility to develop our skillset to mitigate those risks.
Ash built her first race bike in 2015 and teamed up with the BC Performance Team. Her first racing meeting in 2015 was on board a Kawasaki 300 Ninja where she was the fastest lady in practice. That first race did not end well with a big crash... and Ash was out for 3 months due to injury but it would take a lot more than that to deter her.
In January 2016, a Kawasaki ZX10r became available. Ash made the decision to get away from the smaller bikes and to ride and race a superbike. It was an enormous leap in terms of power but one ride and it became obvious, there would be no turning back! The change in bikes delayed Ash's return to racing for a further few months while she became accustomed to the extreme power, change in riding style and technique. But spending some much needed time in that transitional period paid off!
Ash De Bakker's racing debut on board the ZX10 took place at Mallala in July 2016. It was by far the most exciting and frightening thing this young rider has ever done. Ash recalls: "Lining up on a grid with 20 other men onboard 1000cc bikes on the rev-limiter is not for the faint hearted. Needless to say, the results were not amazing but I had achieved so many 'firsts.' First race starts on the superbike, first finishes. I realized during this race meeting that I was literally standing at the foot of a mountain. I was racing some of the best riders in the country who had been riding and racing their whole lives. I relish a challenge and I knew that I would need some well-defined milestones to gauge my progression If I was to race in the long term.
In 2016, Ash De Bakker won the Australian FX Superbike 'Formula Oz' Championship in her grade. A result that wildly exceeded all of her expectations
Early in 2017 a crash at Phillip Island meant that Ash spent the majority of the year on the sidelines recovering from injury. It was a tough year, but getting back on the bike and working toward both short and long term goals is enough to make any girl smile! I always try and take something constructive away from a crash. I try to learn something from it.
After Ash's initial year racing she developed goals which would provide a measure of progression in both the short and the long term:
1. Finish every race/race meeting
2. Develop some race craft
3. Optimise fitness level
4. Develop skill level - With the guidance of coach, work on the finer aspects of technique
1. Develop a wider vocabulary, enabling efficient bike set ups at any track and under any conditions
2. Improve grading
3. Achieve a podium placing at a National Event in a 1000cc
4. To race abroad should the opportunity become available
5. Continue my development as a rider - There is always something to learn!!
The race meeting was Queensland Raceway August 2016 was the first
time Ash was able to truly feel that she was in touch with the race pack, being only about 1 second off the pace. The way she tells the story is truly inspirational: "I
rode that bike as fast as I have ever dared and braked harder than I ever
thought possible. I realized that my next milestone was not far from being
achieved. That was to catch the pack and race them. I knew that I had made an
enormous amount of progress. That it would be in Sydney where I would be in the
mix. I realized that I am fast enough to run with the pack that it was only a
matter of time. From that point forward I started to believe that I could actually do this!"
meetings, Ash decided to make an investment in her riding and recruited World Endurance Champion
Alex Cudlin to train and mentor her at race meetings. This is where she started working on some new
technique that very quickly saw her lap times started dropping and my confidence
increasing incrementally. Just having a rider of that caliber in her corner has really helped
build her confidence further.
September 2016, saw the biggest improvement yet. In every race, Ash was in
the mix. On several occasions we saw her make hew way past quite riders of a higher grade and with much more experience. She won her class which was 1st in the D grade in the
Formula Oz category. More importantly, Ash had already reached that second short term goal, which was a huge achievement.
In the short term, Ash plans to continue learning and developing her riding skills. She will continue to surround herself with people who can encourage, support and teach her. Ash will continue to equip herself with the skills and knowledge to ride fast and to confidently set up a bike for any conditions at any track in the world. Ash will continue to equip herself with the skills and knowledge
to ride fast and to confidently set up a bike for any conditions at any track
in the world.
Ash intends to develop the ability to ride to the limit of my capacity with financial constraints no longer
being at the forefront of her mind. She dreams of the day she can ride without the constant fear of
not being able to repair her bike if something goes wrong or having to use
second hand tyres. When she can concentrate solely on her riding, we will all delight in seeing Ash give her absolute everything
being the very best rider she can possibly be.
In her own words, Ash describes her vision: "In the long
term, I want to do something that no other woman has done before. That is to get on
the podium in a National Superbike race. I am currently the only lady in Australia racing a 1000cc
motorcycle at a National Level. I have a Nationwide audience and I want women
to see me succeed. I want to pave the
way for women in motorcycle racing and I want to inspire and show them that with
hard work, persistence and support anything is possible. I want to be the fastest woman in Australia on
In her own words, Ash describes her vision: "In the long term I want to get on the podium in a National Superbike race. I want women to see me succeed. There are so few women who race motorcycles, I want young women to see that with hard work, persistence and support..... anything is possible!!! I want young women to know that they can realistically participate in motorsport.
Ultimately, I want to be the fastest woman in Australia on a motorcycle, why not!!!!
"I want to
use this platform to encourage other ladies to ride motorcycles, undertake
training and to be self sufficient riders. I want to use this platform to raise
much needed funds for charities such as 'make a wish' and the 'Royal Children's
else I believe in myself, I believe I have the skill, ability and the drive to
achieve my goals. I know it sounds crazy to be racing a superbike after riding
for only two years. Imagine what I can do with a few more. "
Ashlee De Bakker has competed in the Formula Extreme Australian Superbike Championships (AFX-SBK) and the Australian Superbike Championship (ASC) on a 2015 Kawasaki ZX10 in the Formula Oz Category.
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