Motoette -in forward motion

Maria Costello ~ Paving the road for women and racing

Maria Costello

Maria Costello was born in Northampton England on June 9, 1977, and even though she’s not quite 33 years old, she retains a racing career that dates back to 1995. In her 15 years, she has diligently set the bar for female racers who have preceded her, especially when it comes to the Isle of Man TT road race.  

Becoming one of the first female solo racers to stand on the podium at the Isle of Man TT and the Manx Grand Prix, Maria has had an unprecedented historical racing career and continues to strive for excellence as a professional racer for 2010.  

Maria has a lot to prove this year. With a two-year span of setbacks due to injury and a 5 year standing TT record that was broken by Jenny Tinmouth; a fellow British racer and contending rival, means Maria will be even more competitive than ever. To add to the adventure, Maria has opted to race a BMW, a bike that hasn’t been seen on the TT grid in over 30 years.  

Her fans affectionately call her “Elvis”, making it obvious that Maria has a radiant charisma about her that shows in her style and successes as an established professional racer.  

Moto Race Reports contributing editor, Cindi Servante visits with Maria to unveil the many layers of her multi-faceted life and career.  

MRR- What inspired you to become a motorcyclist, when did you start and what was your first motorbike?  

Maria Costello MBE – Does a Honda Melody 50cc scooter count as a motorbike? I was 16/17 years old and needed transport to get to work, training to be a Veterinary nurse. So, I bought the moped with some money I’d earned from looking after peoples pets. It didn’t give me any street credibility, just independence. I would say that my first proper motorbike came a year or so later when I got a Yamaha TZR125, it was derestricted pretty soon after I got it.  

MRR- With a racing career that dates back to 1995, can you give a brief summery of your racing career?  

Maria Costello MBE – Started short-circuit racing on a Suzuki RGV50 in 95’, I loved this bike. The following year I was approached by Sandra Barnet, a former female TT lap record holder and joined her and another lady Bridget McManus in 1996 in an all-girl team. That team took me to the Manx Grand prix for the first time. Since then, I’ve been hooked on road racing and have raced at the Manx Grand Prix pretty much every year. I think my race history is listed on my website until 1999 when I went to the TT.  

I continued to do short-circuit racing on very meager budget, but raced in some fantastic one-make series, such as the Honda CB500 Cup and Honda Hornet Cup.  I also competed on a Fireblade in the British Superstock Championship in 2000.   

In 2004 I became the fastest woman to lap the TT course and in 2005 I was the first woman to stand on the TT podium, 3rd in Ultra lightweight race, MGP.  

In 2006 I broke my leg at Keppel Gate (MGP) and it took until last year for me to regain my confidence. In 2009 I was awarded an MBE for services to motorcycling and I realized then that I’d become a role model in the sport and particularly to women. I am now proactive in supporting my fellow female competitors. I want to do more to encourage women everywhere that they can succeed in a sport, work or life in general, despite the odds, even if the arena is male dominated.  

This year I’m returning to the TT, in attempt to regain my 1995 title!  

MRR- Becoming the first female solo racer to stand on the podium at the Isle of Man TT and the Manx GP, can you describe how the experience was for you?  

Maria Costello MBE – Euphoric! It remains one of the best days of my career. I can pretty much remember every detail about that day and the race. The best part was crossing the finish line and then as I rode up the return road I was waved into the winners’ enclosure. I only wish I’d ridden a 400 at the MGP earlier on in my career, as it was so much fun.  

The podium finish made all the work, money and effort in getting to the Manx, all worth while.  

It gave something back to all my sponsors & supporters and it showed what women can accomplish in a man’s world. I hope my achievements have inspired some women to take up riding and even racing, to have the opportunity to experience the feeling. I was high on cloud nine for months and months!!  

MRR- In holding the record as the fastest female solo racer for 5 years, how do you feel about competing against Jenny Tinmouth this May at the Isle of Man TT and how confident are you in beating her 116.8mph aver. lap record?  

Maria Costello MBE – I have total respect for Jenny, she is a highly talented racer and a lovely person to know. I think that our rivalry will be used a lot in the run up to the event. I only see it as a positive and the TT is surely all the better for having more women compete there! I look forward to the challenge!  

It has given me a boost and I will be attempting to regain the female lap record in the forthcoming TT.  

MRR- Can you expand on what you and your team are doing in preparation for the TT race this year?  

Maria Costello MBE – The plan is to get as much track time as possible before we hit the main International events of the NW200 and TT. The team tested in Portugal at the start of the year at the fantastic Parkalgar circuit. Then some other test sessions have followed at various tracks including Pembrey and Rockingham in the UK.  

I have competed in two short-circuit events and my teammate, Davy Morgan competed at Scarborough. We both contended in the Cookstown 100 in North Ireland at the end of April, where I raced my CMS Honda RVF400. On my return, I commenced testing the S1000RR BMW. I was also able to race the Yamaha R6 at Snetterton before we, as a team, head back to North Ireland for the International North West 200 and then on to the TT.  

MRR- Can you explain your involvement with BMW and the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy?   

Maria Costello MBE – I have an amazing personal sponsor and good friend by the name of Tony Morris. He bought the BMW for me to race at the NW200 and Isle of Man TT races.  

It was a magnificent gesture by Tony to buy this bike for me and I fully intend to repay his faith in me. The BMW S1000RR has had fantastic reviews and BMW WSBK racers Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus have proved this bike is competitive. I think it will make a great TT bike.  

MRR- Is there a person(s) that you consider to be an idol or mentor to you?  

Maria Costello MBE – My idols in this sport are no longer with us, David Jefferies and Steve Hislop. I have admiration for many others, especially those who compete at the TT. I have a small group of people who I consider as my ‘team’ and they include Tony Morris my personal sponsor and the head of CSC Racing – Steve Caffyn My team-mate Davy Morgan and performance coach David Sutton. Between them all, they keep me on track – in more ways than one!  

MRR- This past year, you were appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince Charles. What did this mean for you and is it true you arrived by motorbike?  

Maria Costello MBE – I’ve always loved riding and racing and pushing boundaries, in particular becoming the fastest woman in the UK to lap the TT course. Getting the MBE made me realize that I have a larger role to play in this world of motorcycling, it has made me even more determined to achieve more for all women.  

If it wasn’t for my friend Damian Rowley, who works for Virgin limo bikes, I probably would have missed the ceremony. Thankfully he rescued me from a terrible traffic jam, on the back of his motorbike! So, yes, it’s true!  

MRR- What is the story behind why your fans call you “Elvis?”  

Maria Costello MBE- It’s a nick name that was given to me when I was about 9 years old by my friend Eve Jones. It’s all down to my surname. Like the famous singer Evis Costello! I guess it got around and the nick-name took off with the fans.  

  

It’s hard to believe it’s been over thirty years since the official BMW team has made its presence known at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race when German racers, Helmut Dahne and Hans Otto Butenuth last represented BMW in the late 70’s. For this race season, Maria Costello has been given the honor of piloting the BMW S1000RR in three key races, Superstock, Superbike and Senior TT races, thanks to her personal sponsor and close friend, Tony Morris.   

With the aide of her team, sponsors and BMW and an extraordinary talent for the two-wheeled machines, its obvious Maria has a prodigious edge to her competitors for 2010.  

To stay up to date with Maria, don’t forget to check out her Website Maria Costello racing and her Facebook fan page.

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May 26, 2010 - Posted by | BMW motorcycles, BMW S1000RR, Honda CB500 cup, Isle of Man TT, jenny tinmouth, Manx Grand Prix, Maria Costello, Moto Race Reports, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, NW 200, Ruben Xaus, Superstock, Tony Morris -CSC Racing, Troy Corser

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