Anjali Sharma is the first woman in the country to participate in a motor sport event on an All Terrain Vehicle
Its probably not the kind of machine that you would associate with a petite 26-year-old,but when Jaipur-based Anjali Sharma (in the picture) takes to the wheel of her Scrambler a menacing 500 CC All Terrain Vehicle (ATV),manufactured by the US-based auto giant Polaris,then you better believe that the lady is no amateur driver. She is the first woman participant on an ATV to take part in the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm,an annual motor sport event,that covers over 3,000 kilometres of some of the most difficult terrain in India.
Even as Sharma rolled in for the ceremonial flag-off of the rally in New Delhi,dressed in heavy-duty overalls,with safety pads in place and her face hidden by a large helmet,few suspected that it was a woman on the drivers seat. It was only when she nonchalantly took off her helmet that jaws dropped in surprise.
Thats because Sharma has set out on a formidable task. Jayesh Desai,president of Northern Motorsport,that organises the rally,admits that driving the ATV is more difficult than driving a four-wheeler or a bike for the rally. Says he,Unlike the bike,you dont sit and drive an ATV. You are crouched over it and your thighs and calf muscles take all the strain.
While most people would be put off by the prospect of driving this way for six days on the rough,demanding,terrain of Rajasthan and Gujarat,Sharma is undaunted. She states,I have been practising on the ATV for a month and am extremely excited about the rally.
The only other rider on an ATV in the event is Russi Kohli,who is also a resident of Jaipur. Incidentally,Sharma and Kohli are co-owners of Trans Asia Distribution,the distributor for Polaris in Central Asia.
Sharma admits that initially her parents were slightly paranoid about her decision to participate on an ATV,but they gave in eventually. Desai says the concern is not entirely misplaced. We were apprehensive about it earlier,but her confidence and enthusiasm rubbed off on us. Anjalis initiative should send a very strong signal to all young,aspiring women that motor sport is another bastion to target, he smiles.