The Fast Lady Who Knows No Fear

Mail on Sunday - 25 May 1997
By Bill Day

SHE could be strutting her stuff on the Paris catwalk or reclining on a rock to model fashion swimwear.

She could, like her sister, Domiziana, have used her tumbling brunette curls, stunning figure and dazzling smile to launch herself as an actress.

But Francesca Romana Giordano chose to shun the glamour life. She prefers to drape herself across the fuel tank of a motorbike and open the throttle to hit l00mph in less time than it takes to read the opening paragraphs of this article.

For the fast lady from Italy has a dream - to become the first woman to win over the high-speed, high-risk Isle of Man TT circuit.

Unsupported by the heavy sponsorship enjoyed by her rivals, but fuelled by her love of speed since childhood, Francesca lines up in the lightweight 400 and junior 600 events on Monday and Wednesday next week.

Today, though, she will be crawling happily at 30mph through the English country-side, with caravan and two high-powered Yamaha motorbikes in tow as she makes her way to Douglas.

Her first appearance there four years ago almost ended in tragedy when she lost control of her 400cc Kawasaki in practice and crashed into a wall.

Unconscious, she was taken to hospital but recovered enough to try "in vain" to persuade doctors to let her out of their care for another stab at the twisting, 37-mile circuit,

She claims to have no fear of the risks - "ants frighten me more," she says - yet she carries the scars of the day she broke a kneecap as a 16-year-old when she crashed her Vespa in Rome.

Worse still, five years ago she broke 10 ribs and had two plates and 12 bolts inserted in her shattered left arm after a pile-up on a 125cc bike.

'That was worrying, not the crash but the four months' racing I missed!' she says. 'I have always found my love of winning much stronger than my fear of accidents'

Her flat in Hertfordshire is dominated by a multi-gym for early-morning workouts. Also in evidence are two 1,000 sets of Ferrari-red leathers, a hamster called Copper-washer, two huge goldfish, three guitars, an assortment of workshop manuals and a mountain bike.

Parked out the back is a 15,000 Yamaha YZF 750 sports production bike, which she plans to race in the Ulster GP in August.

Since making her first appearance on a 125 in the Italian Championships seven-years ago she has ridden at Brands Hatch, Mallory Park, Snetterton, Cadwell Park and Monza. Three years ago she beat 15 men to win the Italian 750 title.

Now president of the Associazione Difeso Moto, a Milan-based motor-bike racing watchdog, she mixes with the likes of Giacomo Agostini.

"I've had enough success to become more than mere curiosity value for men,' she says. 'But getting sponsorship has been a nightmare. It costs 100,000 to race in a British Championship season. There's been little money to spare but my boyfriend's a mechanic, so that's useful."

She has no plans to marry, follow the career in architecture her studies in Venice decreed or take notice of her father when he asks: "When are you going to stop playing with bikes?"

"I want to ride forever," she says, adding what sounds curiously like "Firsta, pasta, posta!"

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