Aishwarya Pissay, a 23 year old girl from Bengaluru, has become the first Indian to win a World Cup title in motorsports. Pissay of TVS won the FIM Baja World Cup 2019 in the women’s category in August this year. She won with a total of 65 points, scoring just four points more than the first runner-up Rita Vieira of Portugal. She also came in the second position in the junior category with a total score of 46 points. The winner of the junior category Tomas de Gavardo scored 60 points to bag the win.
Participated in Dubai, Portugal, Spain and Hungarian Baja
Aishwarya held the advantage of having participated in all four rounds of the rally and completing all of them, over her rivals. She also managed to finish first in Dubai Baja, third in Portugal, fifth in Spain and fourth in the final Hungarian Baja. Aishwarya was quoted as saying: “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 a career threatening injury, to come out of it and win championship is a great feeling, the Hungarian Baja was one of the best races, even though I didn’t win. It wasn’t an easy race. Given the nature of the terrain, it was more of an endurance than pace. I was riding a smaller bike (250 cc) as against the 450 cc bikes the other girls were on. So, there was always a difference of 20 to 25 minutes between me and the other riders,”. She led the leader board going into the final round, with a seven point lead, and was able to maintain the lead till the end as she finished with the final score of 65 points. The Indian rider has become world no. 23 after the conclusion of the World Cup.
Overcame life-threatening injuries
Last year, Aishwarya became the first woman to enter the Baja Espana Aragon, but couldn’t compete further as she suffered from ruptured pancreas due to a crash in the said event. This wasn’t the first time she was dealing with a high risk injury. Back in 2017, she had injured her collarbone, which led to a surgery where she had a steel plate and 7 screws inserted in her collar bone. Pissay though only became more determined after these hardships. When she was in the hospital for 2 months, there was not even a single day that the fear of not being able to race again didn’t haunt her. The incident taught her to be enduring and resilient, she claims.
Apart from the World Championship, Aishwarya has many other accolades to her name. She is the only Indian woman to have won five national road racing rally championship titles. Incidentally, Aishwarya developed her interest in rally racing when she was 18 years old. Her love for racing flourished due to all the road trips she went on with her friends, after which she decided to pursue it further. Her training started in right earnest in 2015 at the Apex Racing Academy, Coimbatore.
Her historic performance was applauded by the country. The Federation of Motorsports Club of India tweeted, “Aishwarya Pissay of TVS clinches the FIM World Cup 2019 in the women’s category, FMSCI laudes and congratulates India’s first FIM world Cup Champion.”
Rally raids, also known as cross country rallying, is a form of off-road racing that takes place over several days. The length of the event can be as short as 2 to 3 days for a cross country Baja to as long as 15 days for marathon rallies like Dakar rally. The total distance covered varies from 600 to 5000 km.
Such events test the driving and navigation skills as well as the endurance of the rider, driver, co-driver, and machines. The races are held on a variety of terrains like forest roads or mountain roads, dry river beds, sand dunes, etc.
FIM Baja World Cup
FIM is the global governing and sanctioning body of motorcycle (including Quads) racing. It stands for Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme. It has been organizing cross country rallies since 1999 and world championships since 2002. The FIM World Championship has different categories of events, which are, Quads, Women, Junior and 450cc.
The FIM Baja World Cup is separate racing rally from the main World Cup. It has three categories to compete in, Quads, Women and Junior. It has four rounds namely,
Round 1 – Dubai International Baja
Round 2 – Baja do Pinhal, in Portugal
Round 3 – Baja Aragon, in Spain
Round 4 – Hungarian Baja
2019 marks the 8th season of the FIM World Cup since its inauguration in 2012. It is believed to be a great year for Indian motorsports within the country and abroad.