Ace Iranian rally driver Laleh Seddigh visited India last week, showcasing her talent behind the wheels of a rally-spec Mahindra Super XUV500 in Bangalore.
Born in Tehran, Seddigh started driving at a tender age of 13, giving an immediate impression of what’s her dream career would be.
Such was her authority over rally cars that she even convinced the Iranian government to allow her to participate in an otherwise male dominated bastion in her home country.
Over a period of time, the 38-year-old has developed the reputation of Iran’s best rally driver. Having won multiple races and rallies, she is popularly labelled as the ‘little Schumacher.’
In 2008, the BBC produced a documentary depicting her story, titled the Girl Racer.
Maiden India visit
Seddigh was invited in India by Mahindra to exchange views with other drivers taking part in the Mahindra Adventure. Here she drove the rally version of the Indian car manufacturer’s popular SUV, the XUV500.
“I am very excited to have driven the Super XUV500 and to have experienced the motorsport scene in India,’’ Seddigh said.
“Having driven the Super XUV500, I can just say what Mahindra vehicles are capable of. I would like to thank team Mahindra Adventure for providing me this platform to exchange thoughts & experiences with their rally drivers.”
In a country where cricket is considered as a religion, motor racing remains a niche sport. But Seddigh is convinced that more and people will orient towards racing and rallying in coming years.
“I truly believe that motorsport has immense potential to be recognized as a mainstream sport.
"In my own way, I would like to encourage more people to take it up as their profession, as a serious sport. Such free-flowing interactions will not only bring in cross country perspectives," she said.
"I am sure this will also provide the right impetus for more support and an increased visibility for a sport which so far has been a playground for a select few.”
A manufacturer initiative
Mahindra have been actively promoting rallying in India and this was another initiative to encourage participation in motorsport. Globally, Mahindra fields a team in Formula E, and supplies customer bikes in Moto3.
“We are delighted to have Laleh amongst us and equally happy to have her experience our rally prepared Super XUV500,’’ said Vivek Nayer, Chief Marketing Officer, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
Having established immense credentials in the rally circuit with many podium finishes and national rally wins, the Super XUV500 was put to test by Laleh as she showcased her finesse in display driving.
“It was a pleasure to watch Laleh drive as she put the machine to test. She truly epitomizes the spirit of women empowerment and symbolizes the take on anything spirit,’’ he added.