18 Mar 2019
NGK-sponsored Maria Costello MBE is aiming to become the first woman to race both sidecar and solo machinery at the same Isle of Man TT meeting after announcing her partnership with Julie Canipa for the 2019 season.
The Northamptonshire racer celebrated International Women’s Day by securing acceptance to race the sidecar at this year’s TT with Julie Canipa as her new passenger, who last year was awarded the Susan Jenness Trophy by the TT Supporters’ Club for her fantastic efforts in the event.
The pair will form a formidable duo as an all-female team. Costello made her sidecar road racing debut at the Southern 100 road races on the Isle of Man last year while Canipa started her TT career alongside Doug Chandler in 2015 and teamed up with Greg Lambert in 2017 to claim her best IoM finish of eighth.
Despite being a late starter to the sport, Canipa (50), of Port Soderick on the Isle of Man, is the fastest female passenger around the twisty Oliver’s Mount circuit and has enjoyed podium success at the Pre-TT Classic as well as racing competitively in New Zealand.
Costello said: “I’m so excited about getting the opportunity to compete on my sidecar at the TT, this would make me the first woman to race both a sidecar and solo at the TT races and to do it as an all-female team would make it even more special.
“I’m so delighted to have Julie as my passenger. She is a massive boost to my sidecar racing and especially to my TT as she’s a terrific passenger and she also has four years of experience there.“
Mark Hallam, NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd Marketing Manager, said: “It is fantastic news that Maria will be participating in sidecar racing with Julie as well as competing as a solo rider at the iconic Isle of Man TT meeting this year. It is a great achievement to be the first woman to take part in both disciplines and we wish her every success.”
Costello, who recently secured a deal to ride a Paton Supertwin for Mark Coverdale this year, goes into the season with a new mechanic, Chris Purdie, who will work alongside existing spanner man Matt Williams and new team members from Ireland.
“I’ve got continued support from many of my existing sponsors, which means the world, and some new sponsors to announce in the very near future,” added Costello, whose achievements on the Isle of Man include being a former female lap record holder on the TT course, being the first woman to take the podium in a race at the Manx Grand Prix & a Classic TT podium finisher.
NGK has a long and successful association with motorcycling where its spark plugs have helped the world’s leading teams and riders to countless victories.
It is the world’s number one original equipment (OE) fitment and its Iridium IX spark plugs are popular with motorcyclists for their ability to provide enhanced ignition efficiency, better acceleration, faster starting and smoother running, longer life and impressive fuel economy.