Aishwarya Pissay, the 23-year-old off-road racer from Bengaluru, is one of the top female racing champions in the country. She is the first Indian woman to have won five national titles in Road Racing and Rally Championships.
To date she has won six championships in both off-road and on road events, won the women’s and Group B up to 250cc category in both Raid de Himalaya and Dakshin Dare.
Aishwarya is currently leading the World Championship in the women category post her excellent performance in Portugal and Dubai Baja, early this year. To continue her winning streak, she is participating in Baja Aragon scheduled to take place in the last week of July in Spain. If she wins the Rally, she will be the First Indian Women racer to ever win a World Championship.
For the love of bikes
But her journey as a woman racer did not begin with a smooth start. When she started off as a professional motorcyclist, there were hardly one or two women racers in the country.
Her parents were quite unsure about allowing her to take up the sport. Her father did not mind too much but her mother did not want Aishwarya to take it up as a career. But over the course of time, when she started to do well, her mother changed her mind.
Aishwarya grew up in Bengaluru and though her passion for bikes started from childhood, she began riding her own bike only at the age of 18. Her father, an engineer by profession, often took her on road trips. Later, she spent a whole year travelling on her bike.
“I also started going on weekend rides with my friends and that is where my love for riding began. Soon I had covered 8000 km from Rann of Kutch in Gujarat to Cherrapunji in Meghalaya in 24 days for a show on MTV.”
In 2015, she started training for racing at Apex Racing Academy, Coimbatore and soon realised that she had the skill sets to get into professional racing.
“Two years later, TVS Racing spotted me in one of the races and wanted me to be part of their factory racing team. TVS Racing provided me with technical and financial support to carry forward my dream and I have never looked back since,” says the young racer.
Aishwarya won 4 National titles in Road Racing and Rally Championship in 2016 and 2017 and won the National Rally Championship in 2018 as well.
In 2019 she participated in Dubai International Baja and Portugal Baja and is currently leading in the Women Category and second in the Junior Category in the Global Championship ranking.
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Aishwarya spends around three-four hours in the gym everyday which includes both physical training and meditation. She also has a nutritionist, who takes care of her diet. She spends at least four hours on her bike on three days a week.
When she is not racing, she loves to read books, watch movies and paint. Her role models are three international players, Arvind KP, CS Santosh and Laia Sanz. On a race day, Aishwarya loves to zone out with music, warm up, meditate and visualise the race.
When she looks back, Aishwarya realises her forte used to be road racing. She started training in road racing at the Apex Racing Academy but from 2017 onwards, she began training in both road races and rallies (off road- mountains, forests etc).
Challenges on the route
During the peak of her racing career in 2017, she had two major injuries. In one accident, she broke her collar bone and in the second, she suffered a pancreas injury.
“I underwent surgeries and nobody expected me to race for a few months. But five days later, I went racing and won the event. This incident taught me the importance of never giving up,” says Aishwarya.
She considers recovering and getting back on track with support from her coaches, family and friends as her biggest turning point.
Interestingly, she won both the road racing and rally championship that year.
Battling against odds
Aishwarya admits that though motorbike racing in India is evolving, the sport needs more popularity. She says that when she started training in the sport, there were a few women racers.
‘I have met women in my initial training days who were ready to take racing as hobby but not as a profession. Today, I am happy to see that there are a lot more women Indian champions.”
She adds that the amount of hard work and dedication this sport requires is as difficult as it is for any other sport. “Anyone who aspires to become a racer should follow their heart and go for it.”
Aishwarya wishes to race and participate in more international championships in the future. Her goal in life is to participate in Dakar Rally and win the global championship. She says, “I will continue to focus on international and domestic races to build on my experience and become one of the world’s top motorsport woman athletes in the world.”
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