Female racer becomes first off-road champion in Brazil – 10 times less likely to win

Romeo Marinho’s win at the Formula Youth race, in which cars drive through tunnels, was extra special after death of her sister

A female racer has become the first off-road racing champion in Brazil, over 10 times less likely to win, in an ultra-challenging sport that has seen only female drivers for the past seven years.

Romeo Marinho, 15, won the Formula Youth race in the Brazilian Amazon by more than four minutes on Thursday.

The World Motor Sport Council has approved the use of female drivers at both cycle and off-road races, but never before in World Off-Road Championship events, said its secretary general, Richard Kadlec.

Marinho’s win – unprecedented among female drivers in Brazil – follows the death of her sister in 2010, when she suffered a massive heart attack after suffering from fatigue and exhaustion.

“It was important for me to win. It was important for my mother,” said Marinho, at the Rio de Janeiro race.

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The Brazilian senate approved on Wednesday a resolution approving the women’s off-road championship, one of three World Off-Road Championship events.

Brunswick, a Brazilian-born Canadian manufacturer of off-road vehicles, has backed the women’s off-road championship, providing financial support as well as technical support and race expertise.

Rivals said they hoped the move would improve participation among female drivers.

“Our goal is to create a fast-growing fan base in the off-road sports, increase safety standards by creating a direct link between manufacturer, team, technology and the track and increase awareness and participation by females,” said Justin Siebert, Formula Youth team manager.

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