In a country where motorsport has a select audience, training facilities and those who encourage the ones taking up the sport are far and few in between, 23-year old Aishwarya Pissay from Bengaluru has created history. It isn’t about gender, but not only is she the first woman from the country, but she is also the first Indian to win a World Title in Motorsport! She annexed the FIM Bajas World Cup in the Women’s category post the final round of the championship on Sunday. Aishwarya also finished second in the FIM Junior category on the conclusion of the four-round Championship.
Aishwarya won the first round in Dubai and was placed third (Portugal), fifth (Spain) and fourth (Hungary) in the subsequent outings, finishing with a tally of 65 points, just four ahead of Portugal’s Rita Vieira in the final Overall standings for Women. She was placed second in the Junior category with 46 points, behind championship winner Tomas de Gavardo (60) of Chile. Going into the Hungarian Baja, Aishwarya and Vieira were the top contenders for the World Cup. The fourth-place finish earned the Indian 13 points, while Vieira, who was placed third, gained 16.
An ecstatic Aishwarya, sponsored by TVS Racing, Sidvin, Mountain Dew, Scott Motorsports India, K&N, Cult Sport and BigRock Dirt Park, said after the podium ceremonies: “It’s absolutely overwhelming. I am out of words. After what happened last year, my first international season, when I crashed in Spain Baja and suffered career-threatening injuries, to come out and win the championship, is a great feeling. It was a tough phase of my life, but I believed in myself and was determined to get back on the bike which I did after nearly six months. So, winning the World Cup is huge for me and I will look to better my performance having gained this experience. I also hope I will be able to get more sponsors on board and eventually realise my dream of participating in and finishing the Dakar Rally. In any case, I will pursue that dream no matter what.”
Reflecting on her Hungarian Baja performance, Aishwarya said: “Without a doubt, the Hungarian Baja was one of my best races though I didn’t win. It wasn’t an easy race. Given the nature of the terrain, it was more of endurance than just pace. I was riding a smaller bike (250cc) as against the 450cc bikes other girls were on. So, there was always a difference of 20-25 minutes between me and the other riders. On the positive side, I was happy that I was closing the gap between me and other riders in front of me. I was able to get within seven minutes of Rita (Vieira) and that gave me the confidence. However, it was more about finishing the race and I was focussed on that. It’s an honour to be the first athlete to bring home a World Championship and put India on the Map of International Motorsports. I believe this gives hope to many budding racers to take the sport seriously.”