Renowned rally driver Bani Yadav has many feathers in her cap — she is among top rally drivers in India, only woman driver to have won the 2015 Indian Rally Championship (IRC) - Asia Cup in women’s category. Last year, the 46-year-old driver was awarded Outstanding Woman in Motorsports by the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI). The Gurgaon resident managed to accomplish all that and more in merely four years of professional driving.
It’s definitely a man’s sport and men are not very happy having women into it and are not welcoming also. But it’s welcoming to see more women coming into the sport
Bani says that breaking the stereotype of a car rally being a ‘male sport’ has been a big motivation for her. She adds that making a mark has been an uphill task. “At my first rally in 2013, men on the tracks gave me questioning looks. It made my resolve stronger that women are equal to them,” she says. The passion for motorsports runs in the family as Bani’s husband and two sons are motorsports enthusiasts as well. And she credits her father for inspiring her to become a rally driver. She recalls, “I would challenge him, saying that I would become a racer one day. I picked it [sport] up by seeing him [drive fast].”
After participating in various car rally formats such as cross country rallies, autocross events, IRC championship she considers herself an extreme rally driver. As a child she perceived rally driving as a glamorous profession but admits it’s far from the same. “Every rally is different and it is as challenging as the last one. It’s about where you are hundred per cent focused. It’s a very strenuous and dangerous sport. A lot of preparation and hard work goes into it, in terms of tuning, getting your car ready, driving on difficult terrains,” she elucidates.
She feels the lack of support from the Haryana government is hindering the growth of the sport. “I haven’t got any recognition as yet. It’s not a sport that is seen every day, but it’s much more dangerous than most of the other sports. How are we not recognising the women here? We are going all out with Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao for women’s empowerment. I want the Haryana government to look at motorsports also,” she says.
She points out that the lack of venues where rally drivers can practise is deterrent to the sport. “We require more facilities for rallyists because there is no where you can go and practise. We are looking for some infrastructure within Gurgaon and NCR. We lack infrastructure which is the primary reason why so few people are taking up the sport. Would the Haryana government support us?” she adds.
Bani, who has won some of the toughest rallies that are held in the country, says that the awards serve only as morale boosters. She says, “There is still a lot of work to do as I have to move to the international level also.”