For a while, it was assumed that only men rode bikes or other types of bicycles. However, Kalyani Potekar, the quickest Indian women motorbike racer, has already disproven it. On a Ducati Panigale V4 superbike, Kalyani Potekar set a record for fastest female rider in India with a time of 2.08 minutes.
Kalyani, who is from a town in Madhya Pradesh, began school at the age of nine. Her father, who also had a love for racing in motorsports, served as an inspiration to her. However, besides his other profession, Kalyani added, he always did it for fun.
My father used to take me to racetracks on the weekends so I could watch the fast cars go past. I had no idea that I was gazing into my own dream, Kalyani remarked.
When she entered the eighth standard, everything for her changed. “Raid de Himalaya, one of the toughest motorbike rallies in the world, was one that her dad took part in. He was unable to complete the activity, but Kalyani still had that in her head.
Kalyani didn’t decide to pursue motorbike racing as a career, as there needed to be more knowledge, scope, and equipment. But eventually, she realised that this was it. She could not be stopped, either.
Kalyani chose to participate in the same event in 2013 while she was still a college student. She didn’t have any training or a bike at the time.
Among the 200 guys, she was the lone female. “I kept my family in the dark about my participation in the event. But after they learned, they gave me a lot of support. I only managed to complete the rally’s first day, but she admitted I already had a dream in the back of my mind.
But ignorance brought her to a jinx. She needed to learn about the training programmes offered in India and how to begin her profession. After a while, she signed up for California Superbike 2017 to start her motorcycle racing training.
Even yet, she was nevertheless hindered by a number of factors. The sport of motorbike racing is pricey. “At least Rs. 70,000 must be spent on each practice session. India’s absence of racetracks turned out to be another obstacle for me. She claimed that I used to spend my own money to travel to Noida or Chennai for a single practice session.
Kalyani had been working many jobs at the time to keep racing. “My parents couldn’t support the funds, so I had to manage them myself by working at multiple places,” she continued.
Despite her schooling and her family’s support, she still had to deal with prejudice from society. Men have long dominated this sport. Additionally, males in the field who disregarded Kalyani Potekar’s calibre put her to the test and made her feel inferior. It wasn’t only the men. She also found the aunts’ hypocrisy annoying. She joyfully defeated each one.
After numerous challenges and participation in multiple events, Kalyani attained her breakthrough. She established a record time of 2.08 minutes on a Ducati Panigale V4 superbike at NCR’s Buddh International Circuit, making her the fastest female motorcyclist in India.
“It was a dream come true,” she remarked. As she gained popularity, sponsors like GoPro, Red Bull, and Ducati came out to support her. She has competed in numerous local, national, and international events. She has also travelled to Thailand and Taiwan to represent India.
Her favourite racing memory, though, is from her first 600cc race in the JK Tyres Superbike Cup, where she faced off against very seasoned pros riding race-ready machines. Despite being the only woman and riding a standard supersport bike, she surpassed the male competitors and placed in the top 10!
Kalyani wants to advance what she does today by practising more. She is one of India’s trailblazers and represents the aspirations of many women for speed and grit.