The unlucky-lucky story of Nadieh Schoots at the 55th Macau Motorcycle GP
Nadieh Schoots remains the queen of motorbikes in Macau despite an unlucky weekend at Guia Circuit for the first ever female motorbike racer at the event : from issues with her starting permission, close to no sleep, to a heavy crash in the main race that left her with broken bones, in what ended up to be still a relatively lucky outcome.
The 55th edition of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix saw the first ever female motorbike racer Nadieh Schoots to ever enter the event making her comeback to the streets of Macau. Let's discover more about this groundbreaking athlete.
Nadieh was born in the Netherlands and found her love for motorbikes early, with both her parents involved in bike racing, as well as watching MotoGP on TV. She was first introduced to minibikes at the age of 14, then young Nadieh started to visit kart tracks all over Europe between 2006 to 2009 with her father.
In 2009, Nadieh had the chance to join a three day training program with an Aprilia RS250 – and impressed despite having never driven a bike with suspension or a clutch. She improved so much that she ended up being one of the fastest on the last day, and made her debut on 600cc Supersport bikes in 2010.
Over the following years, the young Dutchwoman collected experiences in different motorbike races and series, until she became the first ever female rider to compete on the streets of Macau, with her own father-daughter team.
After a very late invitation to the 2022 Macau Grand Prix which resulted in a chaotic experience for her and the team, this year´s opportunity left more room for planning and Schoots joined Basomba Racing aboard their R1 Yamaha with the aim of writing another chapter of history on the tarmac of Macau.
The most anticipated weekend of the year got underway at the Guia Circuit, and it proved to be a challenging and sleepless start for Nadieh Schoots, as she had to solve issues with her starting permission last limit, but at least she could take part in the first 45 minutes long practice session. Riders went out on track to get the feeling for the immensely difficult track ahead of the highly-attended event.
She finished the session in 21st position, as Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW Motorrad) was fastest ahead of Davey Todd (Burrows Engineering RK Racing) and Emu Kostamo - athletes that would play a big role over the course of the whole weekend.
"Frustrating FP after not getting much sleep due to suddenly last night needing to sort an issue with my starting permission", Nadieh commented. "Ended up P21 but we expect to do a lot better tomorrow and Saturday. Loving the Basomba Racing R1 around the Macau GP circuit though, especially the sound between the walls."
The field was straight into the first qualifying, in a windy session that saw the first red flag of the motorbike weekend when Mark Goodings crashed but was immediately on his feet again. Shortly after, the session resumed and times got faster at each lap: Nadieh improved and was P22 at the end, with Hickman again faster ahead of Tood and David Datzer (MTP-Racing by Zero up Penz 13).
"Interesting Q1, we made a gearing change which was correct, however made the wheelbase too short and the bike very unstable", she explained. "Unfortunately there's not enough time during a session to lengthen the chain, so I rode it as is."
"Still improved my time and happy with that as in some sectors the bike was nearly unrideable, plus now we know what direction to go in for Q2 this afternoon. As yesterday I rode on zero sleep, we approached this morning's session more as FP, no pressure, still riding the same tires. Looking forward to making a bigger step this afternoon."
The second qualifying session went underway with a delay and remained undramatic with riders getting into the rhythm; Hickman was fastest again, ahead of Todd and Kostamo. Nadieh Schoots was 21st: "Got the bike working during Q2, now I just need a good night's sleep to get my brain up to speed again too" - she stated. Already after the formation lap of the final race, there was drama for Todd, who hit trouble with a burst oil pipe and couldn't start the race - although a red flag on lap 1 brought him back into the game as his crew could fix the bike in time. Hickman led the race after the start, but Brian McCormack (Roadhouse Macau/FHO Racing) crashed on the first lap, fell and Nadieh Schoots lost control of her bike as debris got under her front wheel, also crashing heavily. She was brought to the hospital and was diagnosed with several broken bones. Meanwhile, Todd's crew fixed his bike and he battled with Hickman for the lead. The latter soon started to pull away and easily controlled the race from the first position. But behind him there was more action as German Datzer, who had dropped back after the restart, quickly started to charge back and went from 8th to 3rd during the rest of the race. The last lap of the race was getting scary as Kamil Holan (Blue Garafe) fell in the final corner and crashed into the barriers at speed and was hit by his own bike. Hickman won the 55th edition of the Motorcycle Grand Prix in Macau ahead of Todd and Datzer. Nadieh Schoots wasn't classified but the most important thing is that she is relatively okay after her heavy crash on the first lap. "After Brian crashed we all had to evade him, his bike and some debris", she explained. "Unfortunately the wind from the other guys riding past a piece of hard plastic blew it right under my front wheel and I went down."
"I'm feeling pretty rough but I'm ok all things considered, mainly glad it's not any worse, and thankful I'm able to spend the night in my hotel room instead of the hospital", she continued. "My left collarbone is fractured, and my left foot has 4 broken bones and potentially more small fractures. They've opted not to operate on my foot (for now). Beyond that I'm very battered and bruised, plus there might be a small issue with my right lung that they'll double check at the hospital tomorrow morning" - Schoots said. Like every motorbike racer, her thoughts are also with her bike: "The last time I saw my bike it was laying in the track burning for what felt like an eternity before someone with a fire extinguisher came to the rescue. Never even mind the damage the impact did. If anyone would like to contribute towards fixing or replacing the Basomba Racing Yamaha R1 that would be immensely appreciated." We hope to see Nadieh Schoots back racing next year, as she aims to return to endurance racing and we wish the Dutchwoman a speedy recovery. Also, Nadieh wasn't the only inspirational woman in Macau last weekend. Hickman's victory meant a first win for his female team boss Faye Ho - at her home Grand Prix. "As a little girl I used to watch the Macau Grand Prix, mesmerized by the excitement of the race I wanted one day to return with my own race team", she wrote. "This year my dream came true as I returned to my home city Macau with my team FHO Racing, and today my team, my bike and my rider Peter Hickamn won the race."
"I’m so proud of my team for everything we achieved today - Pete winning my first-ever Macau GP and his fourth, Joshua Brookes for his incredible achievements as a newcomer at the event, as well as Michael Rutter, who if it wasn’t for an issue would have been on for a podium. Thank you to each and everyone on my team for making my dream come true." It was a weekend of many highs and lows, dreams coming true and dreams getting shattered. But it was another weekend of inspiring women fighting for their ambitions in the world of motorsport.