Dubai resident Sabah Mukri made UAE motorsport history last month (February 2016) when she became the first woman rider to compete in the UAE Sportbike Championship at Dubai Autodrome. Racing on a Yamaha, the 32-year-old Indian expatriate won the hearts and minds of the racing community not only with her historic exploits but also her infectious enthusiasm throughout the race weekend. Furthermore her performance made its’ mark too. Qualifying to race she placed 12th in Race 1 and 11th in Race 2.
“My knees touch the ground now when I turn a corner,” says Sabah, who – impressively – only got her motorcycle license a year and a half ago.
“I did my first track day in September, 2009, and by the third practice I was getting my knee down on every corner. “It is the most incredible, crazy feeling in the world, to have the tops of your knees grazing the ground as you lean into the bend. You need to start hanging off and relaxing while keeping the throttle smooth; I didn’t realize I was so close to the ground at first. Once you get the knack it becomes almost automatic, a lovely feeling. I don’t know, something just kicked into place with that bike.” Asked how she felt after her memorable day she replied with huge grin, “I am over the moon and so happy to be part of it. The experience was amazing.”
Two Races and A lot of Nerves
Speaking about the first of the two races, Mukri said, “I was saying to myself don’t stall. I was thinking let’s have a decent start and I must concentrate. It was my first ever race start and honestly I did not know what to expect. The first race was just like an ice-breaker. The start wasn’t too good.”
Later in the day, in the second race, with nerves and adrenaline under control it was a different story for Sabah. “In the first race everyone disappeared from the moment the race started. But in race two it was so much better – I nailed it! I overtook a few guys. It was awesome.”
Track days at the Autodrome are where riders can bring their motorcycles and ride at high speeds in controlled and safe conditions. It is the stage where enthusiasts can mingle and share the track with the more experienced racers. It is this community of riders from which Mukri, and other rookie riders in the UAE, have emerged.
“Riders who think racing is like a track day, it is not. Racing takes riding to another level. Track day riders really have to try it. It is so worth it because when you are on the grid, that feeling… there is nothing like it,” explained Mukri.
As for the ‘woman in a man’s world’ cliche, Mukri said, “I cannot explain how much support I have had. Everyone has been right behind me, encouraging me throughout, helping me out and giving advice.
The next UAE Sportbike Championship race takes place at the Autodrome on 11 March 2016, where Mukri will be on the grid, a huge grin clearly visible to all under her helmet, and continuing to make her mark on UAE motorsport.