The Feminine Touch for Road Racing

Irish Bike - July 1996

IN recent years Kate Parkinson has brought a little bit of glamour to the race tracks of Ireland, a pretty face on a starting grid is a rare thing. If things work out we could be seeing a Latin beauty, TT competitor Francesca Giordano, on the Irish Roads in the not too distant future. Baylon McCaugbey talked to her on the Isle of Man. FRANCESCA Romana Giordano has raced at the TT since 1993, this year she was part of the five-strong female contingent to brave the mountain circuit, the others being Sandra Bamett, Kate Parkinson, and the two Sidecar passengers, Sadie Childs and Kate Harrington. So what brings a sultry Italian beauty to the gruelling TT races? Francesca told me: "The TT races are the most famous in the world, the Island is known as a biker's paradise, that is what attracted me."

Her chance to ride in the TT came about when an Italian journalist heard about the Hailwood Association, who run a scheme that helps bring foreign riders to the Island.

Daughter of an architect, Francesca trained for the same profession before her passion for motorcycles developed. Her first machine was a 500cc Honda which was quickly replaced by a 600 Ducati Pantah. After five laps of the Vallelunga circuit, she was hooked!

Her original involvement in racing brought her many jobs, marshal, race administrator, tyre fitter, just about anything you could think of, Francesca has done it.

When she did go racing, everything did not go well, as she explained: "I had a very bad crash. I was hit by a few following bikes and broke my shoulder and ten ribs. My parents were not too keen on the sport and the crash didn't change that."

But Francesca fought her way back to fitness with the help of Grand Prix doctor, Claudio Costa, after two months in plaster and some physio treatment, she was back in action.

At present, she is the only female competitor in the Italian 750cc series, a challenge she relishes: "The bigger bikes are demanding, so now I do more gym work, and I recently bought a mountain bike to help me delvelop my leg muscles and it's good for my breathing."

Many women at Francesca's age would be thinking of settling down, what are her plans? She said: "I'd be too expensive for a husband to keep, I'd need tyres, petrol, new bikes. Seriously, I prefer my independence. I came to the TT on my own, so I have to be independent. If I was waiting for someone to come and help and they didn't, where would I be, so I just do my own thing."

Despite being busy with bike preparation, Francesca found time to put on her make-up prior to practice which kicked off at 5 am. She had her reasons: "I feel better with make-up on and looking good. I don't want to look like a man, just because I race, doesn't mean I can't be feminine."

Francesca's older sister, Domiziana, is a well known actress, for all you film buffs, she was in 'Interview with a Vampire' with Tom Cruise. Previously Domiziana attracted all the attention, but Francesca's hiking exploits have gained her backing from firms such as Pirelli and fuel giants Agip.

The subject of Irish road racing came up and Francesca is really interested, she said: "I've heard a lot about road racing in Ireland, all your mini-TTs. All the Irish people I have met here have been so friendly, some day I'd like to race in Ireland."

There is a chance that Francesca will be at the Skerries on July 6, Irish Bike has obtained her a machine, but it depends on the promoting club and her schedule. She would certainly be a welcome attraction. At home in Italy, Francesca is president of the Associazione Difesa Moto, set up by herself, an organisation which looks after bikers' interests and encourages riders to get together and socialise, something we could do with more of in Ireland. She must be one busy lady.

For the record Francesca finished the Junior TT on her 600 Yamaha in 68th position, with an average speed of 90.17mph, while she averaged 87.69mph on her 400 Yamaha to take 53rd in the Lightweight. In closing Francesca asked me to thank everyone who helped her in the Isle of Man especially Allan Warner and Corkhills who supplied a car.

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