10/4/2018 5:19:24 PM

MotoGP riders praise female superbike champ Ana Carrasco

MotoGP riders praise female superbike champ Ana Carrasco

Buriram, Thailand: The world's top-ranked MotoGP riders hailed on Thursday the barrier-breaking victory of Ana Carrasco, a week after the Spaniard earned glory by becoming the first woman to win a world motorcycling title.

The 21-year-old entered the record books on September 30 when she won by a single point in the Superbike Supersport 300 division on the French circuit of Magny-Cours.

Riding a Kawasaki, Carrasco fought her way up from 25th to finish 13th at the season decider, calling her achievement "unbelievable".

MotoGP's three leading riders were full of praise when quizzed about her win ahead of the inaugural Thailand Grand Prix.

"I was very happy, it was so important for the motorcycle world," said MotoGP frontrunner and fellow Spanish rider Marc Marquez.

"It's not a man's world, women can be very fast on the bike. It's not only about the physical condition, also it's about skill and mentality," added Marquez. 

His sentiments were shared by Italians Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi, who both trail Marquez on points going into Sunday's race.

Dovizioso called it an "important result" while Rossi said it was a "great achievement" that could inspire other women.

"I hope that for Ana it is good for the future of her career," Rossi said.

"Maybe this result can push some other girl to race."

When pressed if she could compete at the MotoGP level, Rossi said it was a big leap but that the difference had nothing to do with gender.

"For me from the 300 (division) to the MotoGP is still a long way," he said.

The riders also fielded questions about the hot weather and the new track, which was built only a few years ago in Buriram, a sleepy Thai town that is pouring investment into sports.

The Chang International Circuit is the only Formula One grade track in the country. It will be put to the test this weekend for its first hosting of the MotoGP, the 15th leg in this year's 19-race motorcycling season.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend, straining the resources of rural Buriram, where tents have been pitched near the track after hotels quickly booked out.

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