MotoGP Interview

Lauren Vickers isn’t your stereo-typical grid girl. This is a woman that combines beauty, brains and business sense. Lauren is 23 and a top Australian model that featured in the Best Model in the World competition in 2008.

This year she is working for top MotoGP team, LCR Honda, as a grid girl for French rider, Randy De Puniet. The brown-eyed girl, is the team’s official spokes model. Her job involves jetting off to all the races on the calendar in and out of Europe, whilst getting the team as much exposure on camera on a race weekend on the grid and in the paddock area.

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I caught up with Lauren at Silverstone during the busy British GP weekend, where we discussed bunny costumes, gypsies, baking and men in leather!

Lauren is most famously known in the MotoGP world for wearing an eye-catching bunny costume, leaving little to the imagination! With one of LCR Honda’s main sponsors being Playboy, it’s part of the job description and certainly not for those with inhibitions.

Lauren said, “It’s such a fun thing to wear the bunny suit. Some people say ‘How can you wear it, or you must have hang-ups about yourself in the outfit’, “You can’t take yourself too seriously when your wearing bunny ears and a tail.” Laughs. “You have got cameras around you all the time, there’s no time to be shy.”

There is however much more to the beautiful lady. Standing tall at 5’11, she’s aptly nicknamed legs, as they appear to go on forever. Her genuine for passion for motorsport is refreshing to see, especially considering she used to ride a bike herself!

“I originally started as a fan of MotoGP. I used to ride a bike back home in Australia on track days. I really enjoyed it. I had an R6 myself. I used to go to the Phillip Island race circuit each year to watch. Then one year, one of my promotional agents said ‘We need a grid girl at Phillip Island, are you interested?’ I said ‘yes, that sounds great!’ I did that for a while and it was really useful for me to make some contacts. I already spoke Italian which helped me a lot. I then did a few races for Hayate last year and then I met Fabio Alberti, LCR Honda Commercial Director. I wasn’t even in my uniform, I was off duty and he asked to have a photo with me. I spoke to him in Italian since I knew that’s where he was from, and he was really impressed. He offered for me to come and work for the team for a few races. I had an absolute blast, so I asked him what he thought about having someone who travels with them to all the races. As I had been doing this sort of work for a while, I knew I could get them a lot of exposure. It worked out really well, so I requested a contract for the whole year so I go to every race on the calendar. I do my best to get them the maximum amount of media attention. It helps when you have bunny ears!”

Lauren has quite an eye for detail and design. Not content with just wearing a manufacturer’s typical grid girl outfit, Lauren decided for a more unique look with the outfits for a race weekend.

“I designed a lot of the outfits myself this year. The uniform in 2009 was alright, but I knew I could get something more eye-catching happening. Lucio Cecchinello (team manager) is very passionate about racing, he’s been in the industry for 15-20 years. I thought if anyone knew about the passion of racing, it’s Lucio. So I thought about taking it back to the old school theme. I looked at old photos for inspiration for design ideas and the lady who designs my outfits thought the uniforms from the 80s and 90s worked best, for what I was trying to achieve. They have proved to be quite popular so far and of course the bunny costume you can’t beat! We use outfits I’ve designed for photo shoots as well as the typical race weekend.

“I’ve got a dress maker in Australia who I liaise with. She’s fantastic. I live in Spain and as I don’t have a Spanish dressmaker, she sends them to me in Barcelona and we communicate a lot on the email. She’s very good at what she does.

“I have a vested interest in the team because the more publicity they get, the more I also receive. I’m just really grateful I could make this happen for myself.”

How did the girl from New South Wales, end up in the competitive modelling world? “I was really young when I got into modelling, I was 11. I’m very tall now, but when I was 11, I was already 5’9 and super skinny, as I hadn’t developed curves yet, so I was perfect for fashion. They always thought I was lot older than I was, so I did that for a few years and then got a bit sick of it. When I was 18, I started doing it again, as I was a bit more mature and thick skinned. You need to be thick skinned in this industry not to let it stress you. However, it’s a really cool industry because you can be a chameleon. You can embody a whole new character for the day. It’s helped me a lot here, if you have a rare off day you’re not feeling great, you put on your uniform and get into character and work it.

The brunette has not only modelled, she also studied hospitality management at college, before she went on manage some very successful bars in Sydney.

“I used to manage bars for over 3000 people and then I became a legal secretary because I broke my foot. I don’t think I could go back to an office job now. My life is crazy, I love always being on the move and not having every day the same.”

Moving from the other side of the world to Sitges in Barcelona would be a difficult transformation for most people. Let alone, continuously being on the go, living out of a suitcase from April to November.

“It’s pretty amazing. Obviously this life isn’t for everyone. We say around here, that we live the life of a gypsy, luxury gypsies that may be! It’s a bit hard for relationships and stuff like that, but at the end of the day I love what I do. All other things in life can wait, I’m only 23. The team are all really sweet, they are teaching me more and more Italian each day. Learning the languages helps me within my job and means I can liaise with our Italian guests. I can speak passable French to our guests. All the TV people in the paddock are teaching me to say little bits of each language as they want me to greet the cameras.”

What was it about Spain that made the Best Model in Australia 2008, to pack up her bags and take the brave decision to make a new start in the Catalan country?

“I was thinking if I got the contract with the team, I would have to move to Europe as clearly it’s too far to travel from my home. I’m a sun bunny and love the beach. I decided London was a bit too cold for me, Milan was good for modelling but unbearably hot in July and August, plus there’s no beach close by. So where has a beach that’s close to the airport, where I can model? Barcelona! I live 10 minutes walk from the beach, I have a beautiful place. I consider myself a very lucky girl.”

There is no danger of this grid girl getting bored with the job. Motorbikes have been in her heart a long time and for her, there’s no better sport in the world.

“Bikes have always been the ultimate for me. I don’t know if it’s the element of danger, or the atmosphere, but it’s really thrilling. Having ridden, I can appreciate it a bit more. You don’t know exactly how these guys feel, as these guys are completely off the wall, but it’s the most amazing feeling of freedom when you’re on the bike.”

Being surrounded by rich, confident and sexy riders, it must be hard not to be distracted by them. Has she ever had any thoughts about dating a rider?

“I would prefer to keep my professional life, professional. I’m happy to party and have friends, but I don’t think it would be a good idea. I think it would be better to be respected for my job and the work I do, than for anything else. I wouldn’t want to ruin that. ”

Attention all men, not only is this brunette devastatingly beautiful and a firm lover of bikes, she can cook!

“I have an obsession with baking. I make cookies for everyone. I cook up a storm. If I ever stop being a gypsy, I’ll make a great housewife someday!

At such a young age, Lauren seems to be making the most of every opportunity she can grab, but has aspirations for the future, to stay working within the motorbikes industry.

“Obviously I can’t be a grid girl and model forever. I’m very realistic in that fact. I want to make the most of this while I can and network. Then I would really like to continue with motorsport, as it’s always been a big passion of mine. Ideally, going into a more of a PR/marketing role. This is a good environment for me, as I’m so close to all the people in the team and people doing that work already. I’m learning a lot from them and how it all functions. I’ve learned how it goes from sponsors saying they are interested, to actually having their name on the bike. There’s a really big process in between. Not a lot of people realise that. I really find that quite interesting. You get to bring all different types of people together and I think that’s really cool.

“The most success I’ve had in life is to go out and get it for myself and push my name out there. My life is one of the most interesting lives I know and I have so many more fun challenges still ahead.”