MotoGP Interview – Lauren Vickers, Grid Girl & Model
Lauren Vickers is probably the most famous Grid Girl in the MotoGP paddock.
She is currently the official grid girl for the Pramac Ducati MotoGP Team and Randy De Puniet’s girlfriend .
Lauren Vickers is the reigning Playboy Italia’s Playmate of the Year 2010 and was Best Model Australia in 2009.
I caught up with Lauren in Brno. Randy joined us later on and also answered a couple of questions.
Before the interview started, we had a little chat about Twitter and Lauren finally decided to take the plunge!
You can follow her: http://www.twitter.com/LaurenKVickers
For more information about Lauren and a look at some of her beautiful photos, please visit: http://www.laurenvickers.com
Through doing the live feed on Twitter (@motoracefeed), I can tell you have a lot of fans out there…
Yes, you do! And you are by far the most popular lady in the paddock. Do you feel like a role model for other grid girls? Do they come to you for tips and advice?
I do get girls from the paddock sometimes or some Facebook messages through from girls wanting to get some Grid Girl work, asking me about the lifestyle and what they can do to get themselves known.
A lot of people say they enjoy my work because I try to bring something a bit different to the table.
I try to do the photoshoots and other stuff so that people can have a bit more of a visual because before, there wasn’t so much of glamour. The girls would go out on the grid, have some photos taken in the paddock but there weren’t many professional photoshoots so people could relate to the girls.
So I try to bring a different aspect and get more publicity for the grid girls.
The riders are fabulous. They are here to do the majority of the work for the weekend but we are here to try to make it look nice too. *Laughs*
You have been in the modelling industry for a long time. How did you start as a grid girl?
When I was at university, I already had a modelling background and I was working a few jobs, like students do, to try to get some extra money on the side.
Modelling is difficult when you are at university because you have classes every day. You need to go to castings all the time and I just didn’t have the time.
A few of my friends were doing Promo work and it was great because for example you could do 3 hour shoots in the evening or at the weekend. It was also good money so I took that up for a while.
Then I had always had this passion for Motorsports, cars and bikes, so I thought that maybe I could do some events for races.
I started doing that with some promo companies, tried to network my way around which is pretty much how I get through everything! I just talk to everybody, get a feel for what they like and what they don’t like.
Eventually, I got to work at Phillip Island one year as Andre Dovizioso’s grid girl when he was with JIR Scot.
From then, I met more people in the paddock and I spoke a bit of Italian so I made a bit more of an effort to speak to people.
I told them I was off travelling for 2 years and was going to spend a lot of time in Europe so if they needed a Grid Girl for any European races, to keep in touch.
So I did. I worked at a few races for Marco Melandri when he was with Hayate.
Then I met people from the LCR Honda team. I’d always had some kind of a bond with them because they treated me very well, they treated me like family from the beginning. Somehow I convinced them to give me a contract for the whole year.
It was a good relationship because the more publicity I got for the team, the better it was for my image.
And it was great for them to have someone who tried to get interviews, photoshoots etc…
It keeps the sponsors and the clients happy. It all just blossomed from there!
And do you ride?
Yes, I do. But Randy won’t let me have a bike at the moment!
He says it’s too dangerous. Go and figure! The guy who rides at 350 kilometres per hour!
But I do understand. On the road, it is totally different.
I really like Track days because then you get no trucks, no pedestrians, usually no blind corners. You are in a safer environment if something does happen. But I am still working on him to let me have another bike!
I’ve had 3 bikes and I’d really like another one.
What bikes have you had?
I started on a Honda CBR 250 because when you first get your license in Australia, you have to start small.
Then when I was still learning, before I got my full license, I upgraded to a Honda RVF 400 and I started doing track days because that bike was perfect for the track. It was amazing.
Then I got my full license and finally got myself a 2003 Yamaha R6.
It was beautiful. It fitted me perfectly! I still miss it!
I saw someone with the same bike the other day, same colour scheme and I just felt like: “Ooooh, can I have it?!”.
I had to step away from it!
What would be your dream bike?
OK, I know it will sound like I am a little bit outdated but I’d really like an 848 because when it came out, it was my dream bike. They are very expensive in Australia, everything European is. But it is a very beautiful bike and it’s inbetween a 600 and a 1000cc. I am not sure I need a 1000 for the road because it is a lot of power, especially in Sydney traffic.
In France, I am too afraid of the people who drive! So I would like a bike that has that balance.
And then I could take it to the track!
But I don’t know, we’ll see!
Maybe I’d love another R6 because it was such a great bike for me, or even maybe upgrade to a R1 but I’m still thinking on that power decision, whether I need it. But it is really beautiful.
The problem is though that the seat height is getting shorter and shorter. And my legs aren’t getting any shorter!
I’d look like a big spider at the traffic lights! *Laughs*
How do you manage your busy schedule? With doing all the MotoGP events and photoshoots on top etc… How do you do it?
It’s a struggle. I do have a couple of agencies in a couple of different countries.
But even them it is a struggle because my schedule changes so frequently. Especially this year with Randy being injured a couple of times, I had to put things off so I could take care of him, make sure he is already to get back to the next race…
So this year I haven’t done that much modelling.
A lot of it can be last minute but it usually comes together with the contacts I have.
For example, I tell them I’m going in Amsterdam for 1 week with 1 day free, who wants to shoot?
Some may say they are not available but they may know other people who are.
That’s what happened with the 210th Lingerie shoot in Amsterdam recently this year which was fantastic!
It usually comes together nicely and now I have a few projects in the pipeline.
I’m starting to plan things when I get breaks in between races.
I get designers onboard now so that when the time comes I can say: “Ok, these are the dates I have, could you lend me those pieces or could we shoot that campaign then?”
It tends to be me who organises everything because I know my schedule and it is one of the most difficult.
And have you ever thought of doing your own line of riding gear for girls who are into bikes?
That would be amazing if I could do that!
I guess if I could get onboard with an established designer who knows all about the safety and can be up to the standards required, yes, I would love to collaborate on that!
To me, it sounds like the perfect match. You enjoy riding bikes, you are part of the Motorcycle Racing world, a lot of girls who ride know who you are…
I never really thought about that!
I should go to REV’IT about that one because they are really great people. And they are so organised, they can do anything.
Could you interview me every month to give me great ideas? *Laughs* – Fantastic!
Everyone loves a good love story! How did it start with Randy? And how do you cope when things go wrong for him on track?
I guess I get the glamourous side of Motorcycle Racing as well as the less glamourous side but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We got together when we were working at LCR Honda. He was the rider, I was the bunny!
It’s kind of a cliche story. You could probably write it and no one would believe it!
(At this stage, Randy De Puniet joins us for the rest of Lauren’s interview.)
Lauren to Randy: I am just telling Gaelle about how we got together.
So, we just started as friends, completely normal. He had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend in Canada.
Then we actually broke off with our partners around the same time.
Yes, we just started off being really good friends. We worked together a lot, we were doing a lot of Media stuff together so we were always around each other.
Then, one day, Mr De Puniet started to show some interest in me! *lovely smiles between Randy and Lauren*
At first I was like:” No, no, no, no, no!”. I thought I was going to get fired!
And I didn’t want to bring my personal life into my work in case it went badly.
Also, in the paddock, everyone knows everything so the rumours start very quickly.
Overtime, Randy wore me down! *Giggles*
But we were always working together so it was impossible to escape him and his charming French ways!
We started hanging out, had a couple of days but I told Randy I wasn’t really ready to go public with it yet.
I wanted him to go and ask Lucio, our boss if it was ok for us to date (Lucio Cecchinello, LCR Honda).
So I made Randy have this private important meeting with Lucio and he wasn’t allowed to tell Lucio until the meeting.
Lucio was wondering if everything was ok and freaking out!
Then Randy said: “Lauren would like me to ask if it is ok for us to date?”
Lucio just replied: “Yeah, get out of my hair! I’ve got more important things to do!”
So then I was happy!
Shortly after that, I started staying with Randy in his motorhome on the track.
Then in Sachsenring, my whole perfect little world came crashing down after the horrible accident Randy had.
I couldn’t see anyone on the TV screens because they stopped showing anything in case it was very bad.
So I just ran, bunny suit and all, to the Clinica Mobile because I knew that’s where he was going to be taken.
It took a while for him to arrive because they had to go outside the track and through the crowd.
I was just freaking out in my little bunny outfit!
Randy arrived, they did the X-Ray and he had broken his leg quite badly.
Doctor Costa went “Crack”, trying to put it right!
Then he had to be evacuated by helicopter and taken to the closest hospital.
That’s when it really, really did hit me.
I was so scared and worried.
I didn’t know what I would be able to do without him!
As soon as I could, I went to the hospital and I stayed with Randy for the next few days until we made the great escape to leave!
It was a long process to get him back to racing. It is not an easy thing to recover from, especially in the short time span that he did.
He didn’t give himself enough of a break but over the winter, it was good for him to take a break.
So it all started from there!
It is definitely not easy to watch the bad thing happen and my heart stops everytime his bike slides a little bit.
And the camera always seems to come to me when it happens!
My mum says: “Oh you look lovely but very worried on TV!”
Thanks, Mum, Love you too! *Laughs*
It is a bit tricky but when Randy has a good session, you don’t even think about the bad stuff.
The good far outweights the bad because he really loves what he does.
He wouldn’t have been doing it for 13 years if he didn’t adore every minute of it!
So it makes up for it.
And when it gets close to race time, Randy starts getting a little bit too excited, driving the car a little bit faster! *Laughs*
So do you two spend your time between Australia and France during breaks?
We spend 3 months of the European winter in Australia, which is summer there.
So we get 2 summers! It’s a lovely break, a nice change of pace and the mentality too.
In Australia, everything is pretty relaxed and chilled.
Then we spend 3 weeks to 1 month in there too before Phillip Island.
This year, Randy is going to Japan and I’m actually going to stay in Australia for a couple of weeks to spend more time with my friends and my family.
Then the interview moves to Randy who accepted to answer a couple of questions.
Randy, it’s obviously been a tough year for you, are you starting to look at next year?
I don’t know yet. I’d like to stay here with a competitive bike.
It is difficult for me because I don’t want want to do a second season like this one.
Is it because your bike isn’t competitive enough?
We have a lot of trouble but so does the Ducati factory team.
Ducati is having a some trouble.
They work a lot through the year to improve things.
There may be a new bike for next year but I don’t know, we will see.
I am not in a strong position right now. I just want to come back at my level.
I would like to be in the top 10 for the last races.
And the move to 1000cc next year. What do you think?
I don’t know why they change because in the end, it will be a big cost for everybody.
For the riders, it will be more interesting to ride with a 1000 engine. That’s why I am excited to try this bike.
I will not go to Moto 2 and I would like to ride in MotoGP with a normal bike.
If not, I will have a look at World Superbike but if it was up to me, I would like to stay here.
World Superbike is very exciting and popular too.
Yes, it is popular but for me, it’s just about the bike.
In MotoGP, the bike is very fast, strong, it is the best.
In World Superbike, the level is very high with riders like Checa, Melandri, Biaggi etc…
There are very good riders and exciting races.
2 races on race day is very interesting too but for me, it is about the bike.
Thank you to Lauren and Randy for taking time out of their busy schedule to talk to me. It was a very enjoyable interview.