TVS Racing gets its first woman rider

Shreya Iyer will join the exclusive ranks of Indian women racers when she turns out for TVS Racing in the forthcoming season of the Indian National Rally Championship for two wheelers.

Shreya Iyer will begin her racing career with the K1000, the first of the National Rally Championship's six rounds this weekend.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Shreya Iyer will join the exclusive ranks of Indian women racers when she turns out for TVS Racing in the forthcoming season of the Indian National Rally Championship for two wheelers. The 24-year-old will begin her career with the K1000, the first of the Championship's six rounds, near here this weekend.

“Motorsport has always been considered a male-dominated sport, but it's actually not true,” she said. “There have been so many women doing circuit racing and dirt biking. This is an opportunity to break the stereotype and encourage more women to ride. We need more women in this sport.”

Shreya, who says she first rode a motorbike at 17, has spent years doing cross-country and off-road rides for pleasure, but has no competitive racing experience. Her time in Group B of the INRC will not exactly be smooth. “It will be a learning curve,” she admitted. “[That she will now be racing against the clock] is the only tricky part. I'm running some trials and practising, getting an idea as to how a rally works. Hopefully I'll do well.”

Shreya has been training for almost a month now, spending six hours a day on her TVS Apache RTR 200 on a dirt track here. Her team is confident, however, of her capabilities. “She's demonstrating to us that she's comfortable with this kind of activity,” said Arvind Pangaonkar, Head of TVS Racing. “We were looking for the kind of skills she has.”

A Design and Management graduate from Mount Carmel College here, Shreya revealed that there was resistance at home initially. “My parents were naturally concerned about my safety,” she said. “I sat them down and talked to them. They're okay now. They've always stood by me. For me, motorcycling is liberating. I wouldn't like it if someone was going to curb that.”

There have been several women drivers on the National rally scene before and Shreya did not wish to make a great deal of her gender. “I don't think motorcyling has anything to do with gender,” she said. “It is after all a bike with two tyres. Anyone can get on it.”

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