As we approach the Chennai round, let's get to know better some of the six X1 Racing league women racers: Indian Mira Erda was a late yet very welcomed addition to the grid.
X1 Racing League raised its curtain last weekend at Buddh International Circuit and now heads to Chennai for its second and final round of its inaugural season.
With an innovative concept of franchise-based racing teams inspired by India's major cities, X1 Racing was co-founded by Indian racers Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim, with the clear aim of providing India with its benchmark championship in motor racing.
The opening round at the former Formula 1 venue featured four races, with Mumbai Falcons and Bangalore Racing Stars among the most competitive squads so far.
While many things still have big room for improvement, the brand-new Indian championship has pioneered some interesting concepts such as relay races and has to be commended for including in its international invitations six high-profile female racers.
Among them, it is 19-year old local driver Mira Erda, standing in last minute for AD Delhi Racing's Christina Nielsen. Nielsen, a double IMSA champion with massive GT endurance experience, in fact stepped down from the series after an unfortunate day for team Delhi, as her car could not run in any of the day's sessions due to unreliability issues.
Mira, who was racing at the venue in JK Tyres support races, was called at short notice and, given her experience in the Formula BMW machinery, did an admirable job in Sunday's races.
A W-Series qualifier, Mira is a Red Bull-supported driver with a 10 years motorsport experience: her passion for racing cars started when she was 9, as her father opened a karting centre. Through constant improvement and several national and international experiences, Erda collected F4 starts and was found ready when her chance did eventually come.
We joined forces with Indian motorsport blogger Soumil Arora, who had the chance to chat with Mira Erda during her X1 Racing League debut at Buddh International Circuit.
Be the best version of yourself and forget everything else. Just push the car to its limits and get out of your comfort zone.
SOUMIL: Mira, how was the experience of the opening round for you?
MIRA: For me it has been an amazing experience. I just came in the team at the last moment on Sunday, because the international lady driver backed out, and it gave me an opportunity that I had to take it.
I have been racing these cars for the last two years and seeing the drivers driving around and not being able to drive it myself, it broke my heart. So just coming in and being able to drive and make the team stronger, I think that was the only aim and we did pretty well, because [considering] all the experience that I collected in the last two years while driving these cars, I had to make sure that the team was strong.
Yesterday [on Saturday], only one car was running and that was unfortunate for us, while today [Sunday] at least we're happy that we went into the race with both the cars and we did pretty well.
S: What was your pace like? Coming in at the last moment into the team, with not one but five drivers. What was it like for you?
M: Everyone has been practicing quite a lot, for at least two or three sessions and then they've been racing yesterday. So for me, to come and just go straight into qualifying and setting the fastest lap for the team, it was a big pressure for me. But I gave it my best and did 2:13 and then in the race I started again and did a 2:06. That's a major improvement. Last year my best was 2:07, so I broke my own best lap-time and that was my only target for me. So I really hope that I can perform much more.
S: What do you think about the format? Relay racing has never been done before. What was it like, to swap cars in a single seater? Pressure?
M: Not really, because we knew what we were doing. This was an amazing concept that X1 got in, and it was amazing to watch. But being part of the team, it was quite difficult for us, to get quickly into the cars, change the cars and then waiting for the other driver to come and join us so that we could go back on track. That was quite technical, but then we have very strong drivers in our team: Ashwin [Datta], Raghul [Rangasany], Gaurav [Gill], Sandeep [Kumar] and then me. So I think it was an amazing team and I think that we can get much stronger.
S: A quick word on the other female drivers: we've got quite a bunch of them! What does it feel like to compete with them and which one would you like to race against the most?
M: For me, just to meet them and getting the experience from the international female drivers has been huge part of it, because I met a few of them in the W-Series and we know each other, and they've been performing so well.
When they come here to India, obviously I have the pressure to perform equally well. So coming in on Sunday, that was much more pressure for me, because it was very last moment. But Pippa Mann has been such a genuine person to me, helping me out and supporting me, I think that's what women in motorsports is about: supporting each other and pulling each other up. So I think I want to race against her again and see what comes out of it!
S: Indy 500 hopefully?
M: Fingers crossed! She has been an amazing inspiration for me, so let's see!
S: A quick word on young talents. A lot of female racing drivers are taking interest in the sport. How can they become someone like you?
M: I wouldn't say someone like me because everybody has to grow their own personality, and everyone has different qualities. To all the young women that started racing currently, or that are interested in motorsport, or any kind of field, I think they have to go out there and not think about anything else: be the best version of yourself and forget everything else.
Just push the car to its limits, get out of your comfort zone. That's how I have learnt.
There are a lot of drivers who actually support you and help you, so you can always learn from them and keep improving.
That's what women in motorsports is about: supporting each other and pulling each other up.
Watch the full interview:
X1 Racing coverage is made possible thanks to the cooperation with Soumil Arora. Check out his social profiles and give him a follow!
Cover photo credits: SoumilArora.com