The Professionals - Livia Lancelot

Livia Lancelot is Kawasaki France’s impossibly cool ladies’ motocross World Champion. She’s Europe’s only professional female MX racer...

Hello! How old are you and where you from?

I’m 21 years old and from Essonne, just 25 minutes from Paris. I was born in Paris and have been riding the bikes since I was four years old.

Paris? That means you get grumpy and pout a lot...

Ha ha! No, I am not like this. I know this is what some people think of Parisians, but we are not all this way.

When did you go professional?

I went Pro just two years ago, before that I was at college. I stopped school so I could go riding every day. My parents were happy for me to do this, my mother knows that when I want something I try my hardest to get it. When I finished school I said to mum ‘I want to be world champion.’ So she says “sure, but if you’re not world champion in a year you’re straight back to college.” But I made world champion, so no problems and here I am.

Do you think that girls have a different approach to racing that guys?

Maybe, yes. Guys tend to be aggressive, to use their muscles sometimes and not their heads in racing. Girls tend to be a bit more safe, a bit more considered in their riding. That’s just how we do things. But not all of them – some of the girls are just crazy, full throttle everywhere and crashing all over the place. It’s funny to see.

So are you a crazy girl or a safe girl?

I think a safe girl. I take risks, but I’m not crazy. If I’m not happy with how the bike feels, or not confident in myself, or don’t like the look of a jump, then I won’t just rush into a situation. If I don’t want then I don’t do.

A nice philosophy. Motocross is very much about style, so is image important to you?

To me, yes. I’m a girl, and I like to wear nice clothes, to wear good make-up and like to look okay at the racetracks. But you know some of the girls I race against look like men! I don’t know if they are lesbians or something. Some of those girls just don’t seem to care…

That's worrying. How often do you get to hang out with your friends now you're a pro?

Well I live in Belgium during the season, and my friends are back in Paris so I don’t see them at all. I hang out with Sebastian Pourcel during the season, we watch movies and do this and that together but nothing too wild or exciting. In the off-season I’m with my best friend all day, we’re inseparable because we never get to see each other when the racing commences.

What has been your worst accident so far?

I smashed myself up pretty good last year, broke my leg and my knee and was off the bike for 6 months. I’ve had a few big crashes – I broke my helmet in two a month ago – but that wasn’t so bad. I walked away, but this is motocross.

And this doesn't worry you?

No, this is the life, it does not worry me.

Are most of your friends girls or guys?

Guys, of course! There’s no bullshit with men. I have just one girlfriend, that’s all. No girls in my life. It’s better like that, and guys are funnier…

Yes, we are describe your training regime…

If it’s before the season in November, December and January, then it’s all physical training. Gym, flex, cycling, cardio and weights. When I’m training near-season, then there’s five riding sessions per week, that’s cool, I love that. Then when the GPs are running I’ll ride maybe twice a week in between races. If you race all weekend, then train too hard, if you do too much you arrive at the GP tired.

What do you spend the most time working on?

Suspension. I only weigh 55kgs, so I am very light and this has certain problems for the bike. At the moment I am working with Kayaba and the guys who do suspension for the super-quick Grand Prix racers like Sebastian. The guy from Kayaba came to me recently and said “I’ve never used such a light spring!” This is the big problem for me. Being so light sometimes I don’t compress the suspension.

Now then: If you raced against the guys, where would you finish?

Ha! That depends on which guys I’m racing against. If it’s against the World Championship guys I would finish last, no question, but against the regular A-group guys in France I always qualify and I never finish last, so that’s cool. Guys hate being beaten by a girl, I have found.

And what is the best move you can pull on a jump?

The tail-whip. I can’t do any tricks like the can-can or whatever, I just do some whip and that’s cool. If I really like the jump and it’s a good day, I can do a great whip.

What is your weakness in racing?

I put too much pressure on myself. At the French GP I was leading the race by 7 seconds, and I don’t know what happened, but my head came apart. Without any provocation I crashed, I wasn’t focused, and afterwards I was so mad at myself. I was perfect apart from that one lap...

And finally, what are you best at?

The jumps. I love to jump! When I’m on my own track I can stay all afternoon working on one jump, practicing the tailwhips. I can get some big air. I was hitting jumps at full gas in 5th gear last week, not dangerous but just big, man. The first time I hit it I was like “oh my God…” but it was totally perfect. Yes, I love to jump.