Female superbike duo paving the way for more women in motorsport
Morongoa Mo Mahope aka Mo83 and Nicole van Aswegen aka Nix21

South Africa’s only female superbike racing duo has established a non-profit company called Basadi in Motorsport with the aim of making a lot of noise about motorsport to a female audience.

The directors are Morongoa (Mo) Mahope, aka “Mo83”, and Nicole van Aswegen, aka “Nix21”. Mo only learnt how to ride a bike at the age of 30 but the bug soon bit and she became the 1st black female superbike racer in South Africa in 2016. In 2016 she was also appointed a brand ambassador for Motorsport South Africa and then later also for Ducati South Africa and most recently BMW Motorrad SA. Her partner Nix21, who  was also a Ducati South Africa ambassador  and is currently a BMW Motorrad SA brand ambassador, is  a racing legend, being the first lady to race in the national 600cc championship as far back as 2009 and also  the first lady to ever podium in a national Supersport race. Nicole also won the Ladies 600 class in the 2010 Northern Regions Motorcycle Championship.

For these two adrenalin junkies there’s no such thing as work is work and play is play. They’re as serious about motorsport and the future of the sport in South Africa as they are about their day jobs.

Nix 21 explains that Basadi (which is Sesotho for Women) in Motorsport is focused on rider development, safety campaigns and promoting racing among women and others not currently exposed to the sport.

“Our target market is women road riders and aspiring racers. If Basadi can be an overall brand ambassador for motorsport, we can help raise the numbers of female riders,” she said.

“South Africa is relatively far behind most developed countries; female rider numbers have dropped over the years. There is a lot of work to be done to get the numbers up to a level where we can have a good representation of female riders and, ultimately, at least two female-only race classes.”

The pair is confident the initiatives they have planned through their NPC, like rider development, safety clinics and track days, will unearth the ladies out there who may very well be SA’s next big thing in the sport.

Upcoming on their calendar is the Motorcycle Racing Series of South Africa (MRSSA). The goal of this series is to inject the fun back into competitive racing; keeping it simple with minimal rules while still racing in a safe environment.

Nicole explains the MRSSA motorcycle-only racing series is founded on the idea of catering for every kind of racer in an affordable manner.

“In this sense, the series welcomes all riders, no matter their age, skill level, type of motorcycle or preference of tyres. We love the slogan – ‘a motorcycle racing series by the riders, for the riders’. No politics, just affordable racing that’s open to all.

“It’s a cheaper form of racing for street bike riders with uncomplicated rules. There are nice feeder classes to start off in and there is room for progression to other classes as a rider’s skill levels improve.” 

Basadi aims to present a programme for women who ride on the road but have never ridden on the track.

“We would start off by taking them on a race simulator, then to a small track on smaller bikes and from there to a big race circuit to help get them faster,” Mo says.

Both agree the sport is still male dominated but use this as extra motivation to perform and prove women are as capable and can succeed.

“Women should never feel inferior to men. They can achieve anything they set their minds to and we are excited to show women this through Basadi in Motorsport,” says Mo.

“The best way for us to promote the sport is by participating in it and competing against the best male racers in the country. We believe we have inspired other women and hope to inspire many others.”

This can be an uphill battle, Nicole adds, as there is still a lot of misconception out there.

“Many people think motorcycle racing is not safe when, in fact, it is much safer than riding on the road. The sport is also not only for ‘rich, white men’ as it is often perceived to be -  anyone can take part. Another myth is that it’s just an expensive hobby with no career prospects. The sport is, in fact, diverse and offers many and varied potential career paths.

“Safety in racing is not our biggest concern as there are measures in place to mitigate risks on the track. Of course, there is always room for improvement by upskilling riders, but we feel the biggest risk is on the road adds Mo, being an occasional road rider herself.

“This is why we want to target women riding on the road. Most people buy motorcycles without possessing the necessary skills or training to adequately handle these machines.”

Nix21 was in love with fast cars and motorbikes from a young age, but Mo83 only explored her interest in bikes at the age of 30, oblivious to the fact there was a sporting side to it until two years later.

Adrian Scholtz, CEO of Motorsport South Africa, is firmly behind these two riders’ dream of garnering enough stakeholder support to enable their NPC to promote and build female numbers on the track.

“Basadi brings something fresh and exciting to the table from the perspective of two ladies who are active racers and therefore know what they’re talking about. The potential impact this organisation can have on motorsport, especially in terms of female participation, is enormous.

“MSA is exceptionally proud of their vision and fully supports their initiatives,” he said.

Nicole and Mo have certainly proven women can multi-task. Mo is a mom to three daughters and Nicole also has a daughter. Their families are firmly behind their motorsport aspirations and always raring to go when it’s family time next to the racetrack.

Follow Basadi in Motorsport on @basadiinmotorsport or @momahope83 for Mo and @nicole.vanaswegen and @Nix21 for Nicole.