There’s no escaping the reality: Motorsport still has a major diversity problem. Have things improved? Almost certainly. But enough? Far from it.

All of motorsport is guilty of it and every series and discipline must do better. That’s no small task. It requires a lot of time, money, and resources to be dedicated to the problem, and finding a person or an organization with all three isn’t easy right now.

Yet, there is a lot of work going on in the background to improve diversity.

The number of female motorcycle riders that make it to the prestigious Asia-level competitions or even national tournaments is already tiny, so female participation at all levels needs a substantial boost if we are to see a high-profile, female riders in the future.

They say “Go the extra mile to move mountains, even if it’s a tiny step!”

Taking a leap of faith, a 16-year-old two wheels rider, Saidatul Zakirah Zairin determined to start nurturing young female talent in a bid to genuinely improve gender diversity in motorcycle racing through setting up her own team. 

Kirah, who will be competing in the MSBK250cc category at the season opener this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit, representing her very own team, LADY BOSS RACING TEAM, jumping into the hoops with strong optimism.

“What I’d like to do is actually give more opportunities to girls, females in racing, or even younger riders, and get them to have a good platform where they feel they are supported, where they are being seen.”

“The team is not gonna be specifically for females but also young riders regardless of gender, but our aim is to groom more female riders. Setting up a team is not a one-person interest. My dad and I have been planning to create our own team, motivated by the desire to be independent and increase our exposure. Alongside my dad and my family, I believe I can make this work!”

“This is only the beginning. We intend to develop future riders and inspire others, especially females. However, we understand that this is not an easy challenge and I am sure there is gonna be many hiccups in the process, but it has to begin somewhere, no? So we don’t expect it to happen quickly. This will be a long-term plan of ours.”

When she blazes a trail, she hopes more women will follow.

Brunei born, Zakirah who is better known, as Kirah was raised in Qatar since the age of 5. From following her father to international motor racing competitions such as MotoGP, World SuperBike Championship (WSBK), and also FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC), the young girl instantly fell in love with two wheels and entered the world of motorsports at the age of 11.

“I remember as a little girl, I used to sit on the grandstands and just watch racing all day long, loving every minute of it,” she recalls.

“So that’s where the passion started; the enthusiasm for racing. I was just so amazed by the riders, how they ride those bikes, and the thrill of it. And also, being able to meet some of the riders; I thought, they’re just so down to earth.”

“For me going into bike racing, I know it is a bit out of the norm because I’m going to be the only female team owner in MSBK, at the moment. It’s huge and a stepping stone for me. We need to see more women involved; more female riders or more female management; that’s what I would like to see in the future. We are getting more female car racers. I think for bike racing, it will take a bit longer to change. But I think eventually we will see more female riders.”

“It’s a bit of a challenge, obviously being such a male-dominated sport. And secondly, there are online comments, and people are going to say things. I think the most important thing is you just have to do what you love and focus on the end result and just enjoy it. Life is always going to be difficult. But if you are happy with what you do, and you enjoy it, you should always take on a challenge.”

Acknowledging the difficult path Kirah is about to take up, she intends to equally invest her energy into her racing career. Despite the hectic schedule of her studies, Kirah believes it is possible to make waves in the motorsport scene.

In her second year in MSBK, Kirah aims to improve her timing this weekend at Sepang.

“My target for this season is to get better results than the last, I am not only competing against other racers but I am also competing against myself in order to improve.”


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