Bengaluru biker vrooms into record books

Aishwarya Pissay.

Bengaluru biker Aishwarya Pissay became the first Indian to claim a world title in motorsports when she annexed the FIM World Cup in the women’s category after the final round of the championship in Varpalota, Hungary.

The 23-year-old also finished second in the FIM Junior category on Sunday with 46 points, behind championship winner Tomas de Gavardo (60) of Chile.

Aishwarya had won the first round in Dubai and had finished third (Portugal), fifth (Spain) and fourth (Hungary) in the subsequent outings, accruing 65 points, just four ahead of Portugal’s Rita Vieira in the final overall standings for women.

Having started the Hungarian Baja with a seven-point lead, the rider maintained momentum through the gruelling 590 km of special stages. Aishwarya (52) and Vieira (45) were the main contenders for the title and the fourth-place finish earned the Indian 13 points, while Vieira, who was placed third, garnered 16.

Rosa Romero, a veteran of Dakar, led the final round despite Aishwarya starting in the lead. She was followed by Sara Garcia Alvarez and Rita Vieira.

“It’s overwhelming,” said an elated Aiahwarya. “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. 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 (considered the world’s most difficult cross-country race). I will pursue that dream no matter what,” she said.

Despite finishing fourth in the last Baja race in Hungary, Aishwarya felt it was one of her best performances. 

“Without 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 about endurance than just pace. I was riding a smaller bike (250cc) as against the 450cc bikes the other girls were on. So there was always a difference of 20-25 minutes between me and them.

“On the positive side, I was happy that I was closing the gap between me and the other riders. 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.”

Aishwarya is scheduled to return to the city in the early hours of Wednesday.

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