Petite Vicky is no rac­ing light-weight

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

On mo­tor­cy­cling web­sites she is de­scribed as New Zealand’s fastest woman and in Ro­torua this week, Vicki Strei­fler will have a crack at an­other record.

In Novem­ber 2008, at an in­vi­ta­tion- only speed record meet near Carter­ton, the Stokes Val­ley res­i­dent tore up the quar­ter mile track from a stand­ing start to reach just un­der 300kmh. Her record time from the av­er­age of two runs was just over 10 sec­onds.

That’s even more im­pres­sive given that was her first day on the 1000cc MV Au­gusta, which had only ar­rived from Christchurch the night be­fore.

But Vicki’s most trea­sured rac­ing moment came a few months later on the Rua­puna cir­cuit, Christchurch, when she took the check­ered flag in the BEARS Sound of Thun­der ‘ B’ bracket open­ing race, and went on to third place over­all.

As is so of­ten the case in many of the events she en­ters, Vicki was the only fe­male com­pet­ing.

Though she has throt­tled off her rac­ing ca­reer re­cently be­cause of the ex­pense, she com­peted in a num­ber of na­tional se­ries meet­ings ear­lier this year and in Novem­ber lo­cals cheered as she gave a speed demon­stra­tion at the Port Road Drags. She has earned her stripes. ‘‘Be­ing a fe­male, I had to earn [ some male rid­ers’] re­spect maybe. There was a bat­tle of wills with some of them.

‘‘There’s al­ways a bit of bike bash­ing on the track, es­pe­cially off the [start­ing] grid and look­ing for the best line into the cor­ner.’’

Vicki says she is not an ag­gres­sive per­son by na­ture, but ‘‘you have to switch out of placid mode in rac­ing. Out on the grid, a bit of a red mist comes down.’’

Those who haven’t raced would be sur­prised at how much con­tact there is, she says. Back wheels are nudged, bikes and bod­ies thump into each other.

‘‘You grit your teeth and you go for it.’’

As she be­came bet­ter known, 99 per cent of male rid­ers just treat her as part of the fra­ter­nity, and show her the same en­cour­age­ment and sup­port any­one on the scene earns by their deeds.

Yes, it’s dan­ger­ous – Vicki con­sid­ers her­self for­tu­nate she’s ex­pe­ri­enced only three ‘‘ offs’’, though one of the spills left her with a chipped el­bow, a crack in an arm bone and a blow to the head that ‘‘de­stroyed’’ her hel­met.

‘‘You’ve got to be­lieve in what you do, take a few risks. Each race I have a word to the man up­stairs, ask him to let me fin­ish the day safe.’’

Her size has its pros and cons. At less than 60kg, her bike has less to carry than heav­ier male rid­ers. But haul­ing large mo­tor­cy­cles around cor­ners takes strength and fit­ness. She runs, power walks and does sit ups to stay in shape. And in full leathers in hot weather, you need stamina.

Vicki grew up on farms in Waikato. She was rid­ing a 90cc bike around the pad­docks by age 10 and had her li­cence at 15.

Her first race out­ings were in club­man se­ries at Man­feild. She had a 1000cc pro­duc­tion Aprilia but her eyes were opened when a flat­mate, Craig Frethy, trusted her to take out his race­tuned, slick-tyred Du­cati. She was hooked.

With back­ing from the likes of KTL Mo­tor­cy­cles and the An­glo Amer­i­can Mo­tor­cy­cle Club there have been plenty of podium fin­ishes on her jour­ney.

Avalon Bid­dle, an­other Kiwi fe­male rider, is do­ing well overseas, but Vicki is the only fe­male con­sis­tently win­ning on the lo­cal BEARS ( Bri­tish, Euro­pean, Amer­i­can Rac­ing bikes) scene. She has rid­den Ja­panese mar­ques but they aren’t for her.

She used to dream about be­ing a spec­ta­tor at a Sound of Thun­der event. It’s not hard to imag­ine how she felt when she was in­vited to race in it.

‘‘It was pretty daunt­ing too, with 52 bikes on the grid when up here the max­i­mum is 35.’’

Vicki rues tak­ing a break from the sport be­cause it proved hard to re­gain spon­sors.

With a de­cent Aprilia or Du­cati cost­ing $ 20,000 plus, an­other $5000 to ‘‘trick it up’’ , a set of race tyres for each meet­ing, en­try fees, and trans­port – the bank bal­ance takes a hid­ing with­out sup­port.

When Vicki moved to Welling­ton it came down to us­ing her sav­ings for a house de­posit, get­ting into a busi­ness, or fund­ing more rac­ing.

‘‘I de­cided to give it an­other shot and live life. It’s been worth it; I have so many fan­tas­tic mem­o­ries.’’

It’s also a great so­cial scene, where she has many friends.

She is grate­ful to Welling­ton Aprilia agents Mo­tor­rad, who will be sup­port­ing her with gear and trans­port when she heads to Ro­torua on Fe­bru­ary 8. Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres is an­other sup­porter.

On a quar­ter mile track, and as the sole fe­male racer, she’ll be aim­ing for top speed in rolling and stand­ing start events.

‘‘I never really go out to beat oth­ers. I’m com­pet­ing against my­self. The aim is to ride bet­ter than I did the pre­vi­ous out­ing.

‘‘Records or podium fin­ishes . . . that’s just ic­ing on the cake.’’

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