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Monmouthshire Beacon: ‘Girl on a Bike’ swaps two wheels for four for rally racing

As seen in The Monmouthshire Beacon: Monmouthshire-based motorcycle adventurer, influencer, and racer known as “The Girl on a Bike,” continues her trailblazing journey in motorsports, switching gears from two wheels to four as she takes on European rally car racing with the motto “adapt, don’t quit”.

The girl on a bike Dakar (3)

Monmouthshire-based motorcycle adventurer, influencer, and racer known as “The Girl on a Bike,” continues her trailblazing journey in motorsports, switching gears from two wheels to four as she takes on European rally car racing with the motto “adapt, don’t quit”.

Vanessa Ruck is tackling the Defender Rally Series in a Defender 90 with Bowler Motorsport, fuelled by her passion for racing and her mission to inspire women.

“This was a daunting leap – trading two wheels for a 2.3-tonne Defender was terrifying,” admits Vanessa. “But my mission is to show that your past doesn’t define your future. There’s always room to learn and grow, and motorsport has always captured my imagination.”

Vanessa’s entry into rally car racing was made possible through Defender, Jaguar Land Rover’s rally racing arm following the integration of Bowler. Their Defender Rally Series is uniquely designed for newcomers and pros alike, by providing the custom-built car, expert training, and ongoing race support.

Having earned podium placing in four racing events out of seven in her first year, this time, Vanessa is upping her game and moving onto the second year, taking on four EU Baja Championship events in her Defender, affectionately called Big Boy, referencing his size compared to her motorcycles.

The Defender Series takes the road-ready Defender 90 as a donor base vehicle before upgrading and modifying them to meet the gruelling requirements of fast speed rally racing, which includes capabilities suitable for Vanessa’s ultimate goal of getting to the desert with four wheels. The rally-ready Defenders campaigned in the series are closely related to P300 production models with added safety features, including race-specification seats, FIA-approved roll cage and fire extinguishers. They use the same powerful 300PS Ingenium petrol engine, responsive eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox and advanced All-Wheel Drive system as showroom models, with all mechanical enhancements, rally support, competition entries and vehicle logistics taken care of by an expert team from Bowler.

After a devastating car accident and years of recovery, a reconstructed hip and shoulder, and countless months of painful physiotherapy, she discovered a new love for motorcycles. Escalating quickly with her heart of determination, in January she conquered the brutal Africa Eco Race on a motorcycle, becoming the first British female to finish the notoriously challenging rally. The event followed the original Dakar route covering 6,000 kilometers in 13 days on a motorcycle in treacherous African terrain.

This career shift to rally car racing is driven by Vanessa’s need to manage chronic pain. “Motorcycling takes a toll on my body. I live with chronic pain, my hip is deteriorating, and I don’t go anywhere without painkillers. I had to come to an emotional realisation that the one home that I have – my body – is something that I need to be a bit more mindful and protective of for my future,” she explains. “But I refuse to give up the thrill of racing.  Four wheels offer a way to stay in the desert, in the bivouac, hooked on the adrenaline and keep pushing boundaries.”

Vanessa’s goal is to become the first British female driver to complete a major (yet-to-be-disclosed) international rally in 2026.  As she blazes this new trail, Vanessa proudly flies the British flag on her car during her upcoming European races.

She uses her story to help engage and inspire the future generations across the UK with her free schools programme. Having visited more than 40 schools, speaking to more than 20,000 students already, Vanessa is on a mission to use her story to help drive hope and energy in others. Vanessa’s door is open for sponsorship help and speaking opportunities.

For the rest of The Monmouthshire Beacon article see here.

If you’re new to my page – it’s more than just dirt bike riding, Harleys and racing, I’m on a mission to prove that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. See more about my story plus read about my life-changing accident, which started it all.

You can find me Vanessa, The Girl On A Bike over on Threads, WhatsApp, InstagramFacebook, Tiktok and YouTube, and www.thegirlonabike.com.

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