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On International Women’s Day, we recognize the effort of women in breaking down the barriers in every sector. Defying rigid societal norms and stereotypes, women are continuing to set the tone for their male counterparts. Taking the example of men dominated motorbike arena, women are now the trendsetters in their own impeccable and stunning style. From being mocked for driving a bike to own the fastest superbike in the world, female riders have come a long way and are now the talk of the town. On International Women's Day 2021, we introduce our readers to the top female bike riders and rally car drivers in India.
Top Female Bike Riders in India
1. Alisha Abdullah
Alisha Abdullah, India’s first female racing champion, needs no formal introduction. Her racing streak began very early as she was winning go-kart races at the age of just 11. At the age of 13, Alisha won the MRF National Go-Karting Championship in the National Level Formula Car Racing in the open class category. The Chennai born racer made news in the international arena with a podium finish in the Toyota Vios Cup in 2014 in Thailand. After a layoff due to a serious accident, Alisha Abdullah secured first place in the National Women Racing Championship 2017. To groom the upcoming women super bikers, she has started an Alisha Abdullah Academy for Women. Her students are performing well in the domestic circuit and she has high hopes. Trivia fact, Alisha Abdullah gave a guest appearance in the Tamil movie Irumbu Kuthirai.
2. Roshni Misbah
Dubbed as ‘Hijabi Biker’ by the media, Roshni Misbah is one of the most celebrated superbike riders in the country. She is a role model for every girl who wishes to break the glass ceiling in the bike riding arena. Apart from having a Kawasaki Ninja H2 in her garage, the 25-year-old also owns a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, Suzuki Hayabusa and Intruder 1800. Roshni is a star in her own right and a source of inspiration for many girls out here. Ms. Misbah also undertook a journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on a 1800cc Indian Motorcycle. It took her 19-20 days to complete the astonishing yet enduring journey. In an interview with us, she spoke about the need for parental support for the budding super bikers. She had remarked, “I want to give a message to the families out there. Support your children and they will make you proud at the end of the day. “
3. Neharika Yadav
A trip to a dentist is everyone’s nightmare but there is one dentist clocking super speed on her stunning bikes. Neharika Yadav is a dentist by profession but a super biker by passion. A terrific rider, she has already completed 2000 kilometres at the Buddh International Circuit. Ms Yadav has rode on famous circuits like Sepang International Circuit (Malaysia) and the Mugello Circuit (Italy). To inspire the upcoming generations, Neharika has delivered two TED talks to inspire people to overcome their fears. To illustrate her achievement, she is the only female alongside 33 male racers in the 1000cc category at the JK Tyre Superbike Championship. She achieved this feat over three consecutive years (2015, 2016, and 2017) while clocking the best time of 2.18 seconds.
4. Aishwarya Pissay
Among the other high profile superbike riders, Aishwarya Pissay is a regular presence in the Indian motorbiking circuit and off-roading arena. Born on 14 August 1995, she is the first-ever Indian to secure the world title in the motorsport segment. Plus, the TVS backed racer won the first position in FIM Bajas World Cup in the women’s category. Additionally, she got the second rank in the junior’s category. She became the first Indian to win a combined total of 6 National titles in circuit racing and rally championships. She translated her passion towards bike riding by winning a total of 4 National titles in Road Racing and Rally Championship in 2016 and 2017. Also, Ms Pissay won the National Rally Championship in 2018. Aishwarya is the first Indian woman to compete in the Baja Aragon World Rally in Spain held in 2018. The list of achievements highlight the growing popularity of Aishwarya Pissay in the moto racing arena in India as well as abroad.
5. Anam Hashim
If a movie is being made on an athlete, it means one has reached the hall of fame. I say this in regards to Anam Hashim whose inspirational journey has inspired the film-makers to create a movie. Titled Anam, the upcoming flick is about a 21-year old girl who does stunts as a sport. The movie is inspired by the life of Anam Hashim, a female bike stunt performer and rider. In 2015, Anam became the youngest woman to undertake a gruelling ride to Khardung La mountain pass on a TVS scooty. Her achievement was included in the India Book of Records. She made her debut in Cross Country Rally Racing at Desert Storm 2019 and is all set to make her mark in the 2021 race season.
Top Female Rally Car Drivers in India
Dr Bani Yadav is a legendary name in the world of racing. Born in 1971, she won the national Autocross Championship for 2018 and 2019 - Ladies. She is also the first woman to come an overall second in the IRC Rally De North competition held in 2016. She holds the accolade of being the first Indian woman to drive a Formula 4 car on the famous Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi. To honour her achievements, the Haryana Government awarded the Best Sportsperson Award for 2017 to Bani Yadav. She made her entry in the motorsport arena way back in 2013. She is the winner of multiple track events and cross country rallies in both men and women categories in the country. Plus, Bani is the only Indian female racer to win major cross country rally titles. She received a major setback in the form of a spinal cord injury in October 2013. She went through two back surgeries but soon made her comeback to the motorsport arena. In the comeback post-injury, she won the Maruti Suzuki 16th Raid De Himalayas held between October 2-10, 2014.
Garima Avtar is one of the newest and successful female entrants in the traditionally male-dominated sport. She began her journey in Motorsports under the banner of Team Mahindra and won laurels at the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm Rally Raid De Himalayas. In 2013, she won the Best Female Driver Award. If not zipping around on the circuits, she works as a Corporate Vice President at Delton Cables Ltd. Garima has competed in other famous rallies like Mughal Rally, Desert Storm Autocross and Speed Sprints. In September 2017, she led an expedition of 20 female drivers to the inhospitable and harsh terrain of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. Garima’s ambition is to drive in the legendary Dakar Rally in the near future.
One of the youngest on the famous list, Mira Erda began her racing career in 2010. She has been an active participant in the JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship while finishing on podiums quite frequently. She is also the first Indian female racer to compete in the Euro JK Series in 2017. The Vadodara born female racer showcased her ability in the single-seater Euro Formula BMW cars. The 20-year-old has been setting circuits on fire both in India as well as internationally. In 2019, she finished on the international podium for the first time by winning the Ladies category in Round 2 of the FIA Formula 4 SEA Championship at Sepang International Circuit. At a very young age of 16, she was honoured by FMSCI, the governing body for motorsports in India with the award of the Outstanding Woman In Motorsports.
Sneha Sharma entered the tough world of motor racing at a fairly young age of 16. Quite a veteran now, Sneha is a regular presence in the arena with plenty of success under her wings. She gave winning performances in competitions like Volkswagen D Polo Cup, Rotax Rookie Race, Toyota Etios Motor Racing and JK Tyres Four-Stroke Championship. Apart from conquering the races, she is flying in the clouds with Indigo Airlines as a pilot. Over her stellar career, Sneha has won over a total of 6 titles and 14 runners up positions in various categories. Currently, Sneha Sharma competes in Formula 4 National Racing Championship.
Deepti and Shivani Pruthvi
A mother-daughter duo is making quite a noise in the motorsport arena. Deepti and Shivani Pruthvi made the first appearance together at the South Indian Rally - first round of the 2019 Indian National Rally Championship. Both competed in a Mitsubishi Cedia in the INRC3 category in the competition. Shivani is the pilot while her mother Deepti is the navigator in the rally competition. With their participation, the mother-daughter duo became the first women pair to participate in the first round of the gruelling competition. Shivani started her racing career in Volkswagen Motorsport India’s Ameo Cup. She also joined the first all-women racing team, Ahura Racing. Post that, she’s won the Sprint de Bengaluru while becoming India’s first female racer at the Asia Auto Gymkhana championship.