Meet the team: Andrea Canto Pastor

Meet the team: Andrea Canto Pastor

While we may be living in an age of equality, Grand Prix racing remains an arena dominated by men. It’s true that many women now work in the paddock but, in the main, they tend to be employed outside of the pit box, mostly in PR and hospitality roles.

It’s a situation that will change, in fact it’s already changing, but it’s doing so at a fairly glacial pace.

One of the young women leading this change is Andrea Canto Pastor, the 27-year-old data technician for the Marc VDS Racing Team’s Livio Loi, who will make his debut in the Moto3 World Championship this season.

Name: Andrea Canto Pastor
Nationality: Spanish
Age: 27
Role: Data Technician (Livio Loi)

What made you decide you wanted to work in motorsport?
Racing was always on the television when I was growing up, so I’ve followed it as a hobby for a long time. When I finished my studies I wanted to work in racing, so I thought I’d give it a go and see if it was possible. If I hadn’t managed to find a job in the paddock then at least it wouldn’t have been because I didn’t try.

Were you put off at all by the fact that very few women work on the technical side of motorcycle racing, or did it make you more determined to succeed?
I think there are fewer women in technical jobs full stop, not just in racing. It’s something you get used to when you’re studying, because the technical courses tend to be more popular with men than women. I think there were only three girls on my course when I was studying, for example. So, no, it didn’t put me off, but it also didn’t really make me any more determined to succeed than I already was.

Even with the correct qualifications finding a technical job in the GP Paddock isn’t easy. Do you think it’s even harder as a woman, because it is so unusual?
Honestly I think not. The teams I’ve worked for were only interested in whether I could do the job. The fact that I was a woman was irrelevant.

What is your job in the Marc VDS Racing Team and what are your main responsibilities?
I’m the data technician for Livio Loi, so I’m responsible for ensuring that all the electronics on his bike work properly. I’m also responsible for analysing all the data we download from the bike and assisting the Chief Mechanic, Manuel Olivencia, with interpreting this data.

Is this the first time you’ve worked with a Grand Prix rookie?
I’ve always worked with young riders but, yes, this is the first time I’ve worked with a rider during his debut GP season. But Livio is a nice guy and, so far, he’s shown than he learns quickly, so I’m sure it won’t be much different to previous seasons.

What do you think is more important in your job, qualifications or experience?
Without a doubt, experience is far more important than qualifications. Qualifications are probably 2% of the job; the rest is purely down to experience.

Your role is technical, but you also need to work closely with the rider. Is communicating with the rider something you find easy or difficult?
I think this is something you have to learn, step by step. Okay, with some riders something just clicks and the communication is easy, but with others you need to work a little harder to make the connection. Everyone is different, and the same is true of riders, so you need to take that into account when you're building a working relationship with them.

What is the best part of your job?
I don’t think there’s one single thing; just being involved in racing is the best part of the job for me.

What is the worst part of your job?
When your bike stops in the race it’s the worse feeling in the world. It’s happened to me once and I never want it to happen again.

What has been your highlight since starting work in the paddock?
The highlight for me was the race wins in Motegi and Valencia last season, when I was working with Danny Kent.

Who, in your opinion, is the greatest rider of all time?
I’d have to say Valentino Rossi.

If you could swap places with someone in the team for one day, who would it be?
I think everyone would like a go at being the rider, so I’d have to say Livio.

But then Livio would be responsible for the electronics on the bike you’d be racing…
Ah, okay, in that case I might swap with someone else then!

How long do you think it will be before we see a female chief mechanic in MotoGP?
I think it will be a long time yet. At the moment we have two women working on the technical side in the paddock and we’re both data technicians. I think it will take us both a few years before we have the experience to be a Chief Mechanic and then more years before we’re ready to move up to the premier class. So, yes, I think it’s going to be a while yet.

What advice would you give to any young women who are studying now but maybe thinking about a career in racing?
If they want it, they don’t have to think differently, they just have to go for it. There is no restriction on what women can do in this sport; the only reason there aren’t more at the moment is because, traditionally, it’s not been something that women have been interested in doing.

While it’s perfectly normal for young boys to be encouraged into motorsport, usually through racing karts or pocket bikes, the same isn’t true of young girls. Nobody is stopping them, but it’s not the sort of thing that young girls tend to show an interest in, maybe because of peer pressure.

Quickfire Questions

All time favourite singer or band?
Arctic Monkeys

What was the last movie you saw and was it any good?
127 Hours. It was a good movie, but there was a bit too much suffering for my liking.

The last CD you bought, or track you downloaded?
It was probably something by Adele.

What subjects were you good at in school?

How many languages can you speak?
I can speak Catalan, Spanish and English.

Your friends go parachuting; do you go with them?
No, definitely not!

Tea or Coffee?

A good book, or fire up the Playstation?
A good book.

Favourite food?
Paella, of course!