The boys have been rumbled! More and more girls are discovering that female work opportunities in the World Superbike paddock aren't limited to being grid girls, and are now holding their own alongside the guys in more mentally challenging roles.
One young lady who finds herself in the thick of the World Superbike weekend action is Heta Lauslehto, who works for the Klaffi Honda Superbike team.
Heta's job is looking after the tyres for riders Frankie Chili and Max Neukirchner, her job title is thus 'Tyre Girl' - or 'Rubber Girl' if the team are feeling cheeky. If her surname sounds familiar it's because Tatu Lauslehto, Heta's brother, races in World Supersport.
"My brother races for Klaffi Honda in the Supersport 600 and that is how I got this job," said Heta. "I ask the team boss if he has something for me to do and he said 'maybe'..."
The pretty Finn didn't have much prior experience with tyre technology, but the team showed her what to do and she was a quick leaner. "I know how the racing world works," she said. "They showed me once what to do and that was it."
Miss Lauslehto can now often be seen in the paddock with a trolley full of tyres as she goes about her race weekend routine - which notably doesn't involve looking after her brother's tyres.
"It's only for Frankie Chili and Max Neukirchner, I don't have time for my brother - and maybe it's better for both of us that I don't do it!" she admitted. "That might add to the stress levels especially when busy. I am very busy between the practices and, yes, there is stress if there is rain or rain showers especially. But when it is nice weather and nothing is going wrong then it's not stressful."
So what does a typical day involve?
"We have breakfast at 8am, then check the tyres are ready for the first practice, and then wait until practice is finished," Heta replied. "We then take the tyres to Pirelli and wait again until they have changed the tyres, then bring them back and check them - pressures, balancing and that the tyres are properly on the rim. Then we put them on a rack and - one hour before the practice - start heating them, and after the second practice we do the same."
It isn't Heta's responsibility to record how the tyres behave, or which tyres were used, since that is the task of the mechanics. Meanwhile, since starting her job, Heta has generally received a positive welcome from the rest of the male dominated WSBK paddock.
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