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Features, India, Motorcycles

August 17th, 2017

Tell us a little bit about you.

I’m Kalyani Potekar from the central part of India; a small city known as Dewas. I have been engrossed with motorcycles since the time I was legally allowed to ride them. Now at 23 years old, I own a Triumph Street Triple for my weekend canyon carving and for the occasional drag races that happen in the country. Apart from that, I am also competing at the national level in the MRF and Honda National Championships while I look forward to representing India in the international racing scene one day. While my primary passion lies with motorcycles, I also enjoy photography on the side while also having successfully completed my training for paragliding, skiing and mountaineering.

I started interested in racing at an early age when I used to see my father battle it out on dirt tracks with fellow motocross racers. But I have been around racing circuits and racers since I was a month old. Back then by family used to carry me in a cradle to the track where they used to go to see my father race. Eventually, after coming of age, I decided to start racing after completing my training from the California Superbike School (CSS).

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A young Kalyani with her brother and father at a motocross event (right)

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Tell us about the championships that you are competing in.

I am currently competing in the Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (INMRC) and the Honda One Make Championship where I race in the Group D stock 165cc ladies category with Team Speed Up Racing. For the INMRC, I ride a Yamaha R15 and for the Honda One Make series, I am riding a race prepped Honda CBR150.

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How has your 2017 championship season been so far?

Since this year is my first year racing, I wanted to be thorough in my preparations. After completing my training from CSS, I participated in the Formula Junious Racing Series (FJRS) at Coimbatore where I learned more about correct racing techniques. I was able to secure the first position in both the rounds there.

The first round of the 2017 INMRC took place between June 9-11 at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore. Honestly, it’s a nervous (yet exciting) feeling when you are on the same grid with other expert riders for the first time. There’s so much anticipation; Would I get a proper launch? Would I crash? Would I even complete the race? Would I win!… But as the lights go off, all your thoughts suddenly disappears and your mind bores into a tunnel of concentration… only to think of crossing the chequered flag as ahead as you can. The first race was challenging, it always is. I crossed the finish line in second place, 0.25 seconds behind the race leader.

The Honda One Make race, which was next, takes place over the same weekend as the INMRC along with the other races that make for the Indian 2 Wheeler Racing Calendar. After standing on my first podium in the previous race, I was ready for the Honda One Make Race on my CBR150. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on my first lap and ended up crashing on the very first corner. I picked up the bike and continued the race, finishing third… still on the podium.

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Round two and three took place at the Madras Motorsport Race Track (MMRT) in Chennai. This time I qualified fifth and finished second in the INMRC. As on the Honda, I qualified third and finished third. The third round was a bit disappointing though, as I qualified sixth. On race day, I was able to cut down on my previous time by a good four seconds, which enabled me to finish 2nd. On board the Honda, it was second place in qualifying and race.

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Kalyani at the Formula Junior Racing Series

What is the rest of the season looking like?

The next two rounds will be once again at the MMRC in Chennai. I believe that I am totally prepared for it and cannot wait to get back on the track. I have learned so many things from the previous races that will boost my confidence for the next rounds.

What’s your message to someone who wants to go racing?

It’s simple, racing is dangerous. But what isn’t? If there’s something that excites you, you must go for it! And just like everything and every other sport, be prepared for the best and the worse. To the contrary of what many believe (or as our government categorises it), racing isn’t entertainment. It isn’t easy too. You need to be prepared both physically and mentally to take up the challenge of giving you 100% focus to riding a motorcycle at the limit on the track while simultaneously pushing your body to its physical limits of endurance.

That said, if you like going fast… the race track is the only place to do it. Get off the roads and get yourself onto a track… bring out the racer in you to the best of the skills you are capable of.

There are so many young boys and girls who keep on asking me about how to get into racing. It’s a hierarchical process that involves one to first complete basic training and get an understanding of the rules and ways of the race track. This can be completed with the help of a certified training school such as CSS, Apex Racing or Honda Ten10 Racing. Once you have got a hang of things, its time to move on and get yourself a FMSCI licence and being competing!

Follow Kalyani’s endeavours on her Instagram page where she documents every racing event that she participates in.

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