Aussie racer quits sport over ‘lack of respect, derogatory treatment of women’

Sharni Pinfold rails at the treatment of women in motorsport as he declares she is quitting racing because of a sexist 'lack of respect'

Sharni Pinfold

An Australian SSP300 rider has declared she is giving up her dream of motorcycle racing after being subjected to sexist attitudes, saying she suffered from a ‘lack of respect’ stemming from the ‘derogatory treatment of women’.

The youngster had been making solid progress up the ranks of the sport having graduated from the Australian domestic series to compete in the IDM Supersport series, while she also made her WorldSSP 300 debut at Magny-Cours last year.

However, in a lengthy post on her Instagram account, Pinfold revealed she is quitting motorsport due to the treatment she receives as a woman competing in a largely male-dominated environment.

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 650 | First Ride |

Saying that she ‘struggles to speak’ about the sexist challenges she has faced, she adds that men wouldn’t be exposed to the same treatment as she does. (Excerpt printed here, full statement on Instagram embedded below).

“Throughout my journey in motorsport, I have experienced and been exposed to many challenges, some that I struggle to even speak about. Most of the challenges I have faced have been sourced from the lack of respect and derogatory treatment of women. Things that I know that I would have never had to experience or be exposed to if I was male.

“There comes a point where enough is enough, and I feel like I have reached that point. I feel that I no longer want to continue to be exposed to this behaviour or to be treated this way. This deeply saddens me. It deeply saddens me to look at the challenge of my own journey, and to acknowledge the fact that women dedicating their lives to pursuing their dreams are being exposed to this and are being treated this way. This hasd been the main contributing factor of my decision to step away.”

Sharni Pinfold statement shines harsh light on racing equality

While perhaps not a household name, Sharni Pinfold had ascended the motorcycle racing ranks higher than most - almost all - other women before her. 

Indeed, a remarkable few can say to have started an circuit-based FIM World Championship race at all such is the domination of men at this level, while only Maria Herrera (MotoE) can count herself as the sole woman competing in the grand prix classes right now.

Measures have been taken in recent years to provide both support, promotion and awareness to women in motorcycle racing, going right up to the top with the FIM, but it’s still a barely noticeable fraction of participation compared with men.

There is of course a trailblazer in Ana Carrasco, who made history by winning the WorldSSP 300 Championship in 2018, while there have been other notable achievements over the years at the Isle of Man TT (Maria Costello, Jenny Tinmouth).

However, Pinfold’s decision to quit is less to do with opportunity and more to do with her off-track experiences at a paddock and team level, something the FIM will no doubt be somewhat ashamed of. With this in mind, it might feel compelled to complement its efforts to get women into motorcycle racing by paying closer attention to what goes on at the ground level when they do. 

Assuming Pinfold is accurate in her depiction of the experiences she has faced, it is desperately sad that in 2021 a professional and up-and-coming racer has had to quit her dream because of sexist attitudes.

Swipe right for full Statement from Sharni Pinfold posted to Instagram [@sharnipinfold]