Friday, March 24

World Women Bikers: Kalyani Potekar on life with motorcycles and track racing

Kalyani Potekar – a biker, adventurer, photographer, horse rider and much more. Kalyani was the youngest woman biker to participate in the 2013 Raid X-treme. She has also participated in “Chase the Monsoon Season3” reality show organized by Ceat and MTV.

tnw: Tell us more about yourself

Kalyani: Myself, Kalyani Potekar from Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. I like adventure sports like paragliding, skiing and mountaineering which I started at an early age of 15.

Also what I like the most is horse-riding. Achieved lots of medals, trophies at national level and also been awarded the ‘Best Rider Girls-India’ title. I represented MP Remount & Veterinary Squadron, NCC Mhow at Republic Day Parade in 2011. Also, received a golden chance to visit INS VIRAAT in Jan 2012.

tnw: Describe how you got to where you are with motorcycling today

Kalyani: It all started at home watching my dad battling out on dirt tracks. He was into motocross Racing and I used to take me to track since I was a 3 month old baby. He taught me to ride a bike when I was 10 years old.

My interest developed with my age. After passing my boards, dad bought me a motorcycle on which I used to commute to college. In my last year of graduation, I decided to participate in one of the world’s toughest rallies, “Raid de Himalaya”. After that I also tried motocross, stunting, drag racing and touring as well. Later, I developed interest in circuit racing.

2017 was probably a turning point in my career. I completed my training from California superbike school which enhanced my skills and brought them to a different level. After training I participated in the Indian Racing National Championship and One Make series. On the basis of my performance in the championship, I was selected to represent India on an international platform and that was like a dream coming true. I was also awarded “Outstanding women in motorsports” in the same year.

Kalyani Potekar with her Triumph Street Triple

In 2018, I decided to upgrade and race in a higher category. I started practicing at the Buddh International with my naked machine Triumph Street Triple. I participated in the JK tyre Superbike Cup at the Buddh International Circuit alongside many experienced male riders. My best lap timing was 2.18.

Again in 2019, I participated in the same cup and beat my own timing by 2 seconds on the same machine.

tnw: The first motorcycle you started riding/ learnt riding

Kalyani: It was my dad’s Yamaha RX 100. Later, after officially getting my license, my dad bought me Yamaha FZ 150.

tnw: Your ride now?

Kalyani: I own a Triumph Street Triple 675 now.

tnw: Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in?

Kalyani: It’s been a fantastic journey of about 10 years now and I have multiple achievements to share. The first biking event I participated in was Raid de Himalaya in 2013 when I was just 20 years old. Being a first timer it was a fantastic learning experience for me.

In 2017, I took training from California Superbike School and participated in Indian National Racing championships and One make series. It was my debut year and I was racing against some of the experienced riders. With all the dedication and hard work, I proved myself. I won many races. And then on the basis of my performance in the Championship I was chosen by FMSCI to represent the country at FIM- Asia Cup of Road racing in Thailand and Taiwan. I feel pride in saying that I finished on the podium. Holding the Tricolor and representing 1.3 million Indians on an International racetrack was the bestest feeling ever.

tnw: You are an inspiration to many. How does it feel?

Kalyani: I’m just doing what I love the most. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from men and women both that they also want to race seriously or they have started riding after watching me ride and seeing the passion I’ve for the Sport. If I’m an inspiration and it makes a difference I feel glad and lucky to be the person who can bring a positive change in someone’s life. This is the least I can do for society and set an example.

tnw: Who is your guru?

Kalyani: My dad has been my Guru since my childhood. When I’m on the track, there are coaches and some amazing riders who guide me. Gurvinder Singh Matharu, Juzar Motiwala, Vicky Jaisingh, Vijay dada and the list is never ending.

tnw: How to get into motorsports?

Kalyani: Getting into Motorsports is easy but staying in motorsports is a challenge. Motorsports is expensive. Unlike other sports it’s difficult to get sponsors. Also it demands a lot of physical and mental fitness. If you want to do it, do it because you love it.

There are different disciplines in motorsports like rallies, stunting, motocross, drag racing and circuit racing. Choose what you love and what you are capable of.

For circuit racing you need to go to certified training school to learn the basics and complete level 1,2,3 training.

Once you are done with the training you can apply for a Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) racing license. But this is not enough. There are different categories to race in the championship.

As a first timer I would recommend going step by step.

If you are low on budget and just want to experience racing you can participate in “one make series”. You will be provided good bikes and gears as well.

If not, you can join a racing team and start with the 150cc category.

There are 3 race tracks in India. Buddh International Circuit in Noida, Madras Motor Race Track in Chennai and Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore.

Indian National Racing Champion and one make series consists of 5 rounds. First round starts at Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore followed by 4 rounds at Madras Motor Race Track in Chennai.

For bikes ranging between 150cc- 400 cc Madras Motor Race Track and Kari are the perfect tracks to practice and race.

For bikes ranging between 600cc- 1000cc The Buddh International Circuit (BIC) is the place. For bigger capacity bikes there are regular track days happening at BIC but there is only one event in the month of November i.e JK Tyre Superbike cup which has 2 rounds where you can showcase your talent.

tnw: 3 things your learnt from motorcycling

Kalyani: Motorcycling has changed my life completely. As a kid, I never thought I would be racing someday.

I was an introvert and was questioned about my caliber multiple times. Riding a motorcycle has given me a new identity. It has boosted my confidence. It has taught me to be calm and patient and to fight till the end in any situation.

tnw: How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists?

Kalyani: I think a lot has changed now and seeing a woman riding a motorcycle is not a surprise anymore.

When it comes to riding on roads, people still judge and pass negative comments. Coming to the track, it’s completely a different world and there is no discrimination on the basis of gender and talking about male motorcyclists they not only respect female riders but also motivates and support them.

tnw: Your favourite motorcycles yet?

Kalyani: KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R

tnw: The motorcycles you wish / dream to see parked in your garage?

Kalyani: Though the list is never ending but yes I would love to have these two beasts parked in my garage- BMW S1000RR & KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R

Follow Kalyani on Instagram

Unedited interview as told to team technwheelz

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