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Cath Thompson, the merchant banker with a passion for motorcycles, rides in her first GP

Cath Thompson, the merchant banker with a passion for motorcycles, rides in her first GP

With few exceptions, most GP riders are born riding motorcycles. Similarly, most of them dedicate their whole life to the sport at the expense of other careers, with the main uniting factor being that the huge majority of them (all but one this year) are male. However, for Cath Thompson, the 37 year-old 125cc wildcard from Sydney, she is not an exception, she is simply another GP rider who just might not fit into the mould of what is considered ´normal´. The fact that her passion during her youth was aeroplanes - and failing eyesight put an end to that , that she has a flourishing career with banking giant Deutsche Bank and finally and least importantly is female, makes no difference whatsoever.

´I think that what Katja Poensgen has done for the profile of women in the sport this year is very positive,´ remarked Cath. ´At the beginning of the season there were people saying, ´Oh, but she won´t qualify´, and when she did that they said, ´But look where she´s placed and how slowly she´s going´. I just say to those remarks, do you honestly know what it takes to be in that position, and the speeds she is going at? Katja´s presence in the championship can only be a positive thing, although I wouldn´t want to go down the route she has in terms of being the pin-up ´chick´ that she has had to for financial reasons. Myself and Katja and other women are just people who want to ride like anybody else, and my colleagues in the Australian championship don´t even pay attention to it. I am another rider who can do as well if not better than them, there has only ever been a problem at lower levels.´

Facing her first GP this weekend as a wildcard rider, Thompson admits that despite her experience on the track, this race is a daunting proposition. ´If I think about it, I really get nervous. As I came to the track and saw all the signs and adverts for the race, I felt a bit sick.´ Having made her debut in the UK in 1988 at Snetterton, Cath´s ride through the ranks saw her finish fourth in this year´s Australian championship on board her Honda RS 95. ´My aims for this weekend are first of all to qualify, if I fulfil that, then I will be happy.´ If she carries on with performances like this afternoon´s first qualifying practice, where she provisionally qualified 30th ahead of seasoned riders Talmacsi, Bataillé, Caffiero and Araujo, that objective will be fulfilled with no problems.

125cc, 2001, Qantas Australian Grand Prix, QP1

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