Who is Usman Ghani?
Usman Ghani is the first Pakistani with a Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) license. He recently became the first-ever Pakistani who was able to strike back to back podium finishes in the SuperStock Championship based in piloting the MotoTech Yamaha R6.
Also an instructor and riding coach, he also aims to attract more Pakistani individuals and develop motorsports across Pakistan.
Following the inspiring story, we recently conducted an interview with the racer. The interview shed light on how he developed his interest in motorsports and the struggle he had to face as a professional.
Q) How did you develop an interest in motorsports?
My father and brother both have had a big passion for cars always and I, too, while growing up, I had a lot of interest in cars and motorsports in general. I would spend hours watching car & bike racing videos online and I still remember stopping at a super-bike and supercar showroom every other morning on my way to school just to gaze at the beautiful machinery.
In Dubai, I live right across the track (Dubai Autodrome Circuit) and when I moved back to Pakistan, I’d spend all my weekends just watching different kinds of races, hoping that one day I’d get the opportunity to represent my country on such platform.
Q) Growing up, did your family support your bike-riding, did it affect your studies?
My family has been very supportive especially my elder brother who, too, is a petrol head himself but my parents like any other parents, they were initially concerned about the safety aspect of motorcycles given how dangerous they can be and the concerns just kept rising after I crashed on the road (due to an oil spill) and fractured my pelvis.
However, after I quit riding motorcycles on the road and became completely dedicated to the track, they were a bit more relaxed since it’s much safer due to it being a controlled environment and mandatory safety gear requirements.
It didn’t hinder my studies, in fact, if anything, your studies play a crucial part in becoming a good rider. You need to understand the concepts of physics, to be able to make the most of the bike’s geometry and also we work with a lot of data so it’s critical to be able to understand, analyze and drive insights from that data to go faster – even 0.001-second advantage can be critical.
Q) How many races or championships have you won so far?
This is my 3rd Racing Season, in my first season, I had crashed on the opening weekend which caused a severe injury in my left knee and I couldn’t ride a bike for a whole year, therefore missing out. In my 2nd season, I finished P4 overall in the championship after some really tough races but a big learning curve and now in the on-going season, we got back to back podiums in the previous race weekend and currently in P3 overall in the championship.
– I am the first Pakistani in the world with an FIM Race License.
– I am the first licensed Pakistani racing coach/instructor.
Q) You mentioned about being wrapped in bandages 20 days ago, what happened?
I had a very big crash in the final lap of the race, I was fighting for 3rd Position with an Irish racer, Marty Lenon, who has been racing over a decade in the UK – but unfortunately, I lost my front tire on hard braking coming into a corner and collided into his bike. Thanks to MASS leathers, my safety gear sponsors from Pakistan, I only incurred a fracture in my right elbow, 2 tears in my ligament and a torn my bicep otherwise it would have been much worse.
The recovery was 4 months, but I pushed a little and raced in the next round just 4 weeks later and eventually finished on the podium in both the races Alhumdulillah.
With bike racing, it can be dangerous and you get injured often. I have 22 fractures to date and multiple ligament injuries but I have learned that the mental approach of how you deal with an injury can really help speed up the recovery process as well.
Q) How has your journey of a rider been so far? Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
Thanks to Allah (S.W.T.) it’s been absolutely great so far. In just my 3rd season, I am able to get on the podium and fight with much more experienced racers. Also, I have the opportunity to represent Pakistan in this sport. I am also a coach and instructor in UAE at Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit, over the course of the next 10 years, I have a few aspirations.
1) To win as many championships as possible and wave the Pakistani flag on the podium.
2) Build a Racing Circuit in Pakistan for both bike and car enthusiasts to provide a much safer and organized platform for them to hone their skills and machines.
3) Train, coach and develop the local Pakistani talent and support them to reach glory at the international level.
Q) Have you asked the Govt of Pakistan for any support? Or have they supported you?
I have tried to reach out to the PM Office via email but no response. I don’t know the right person to get in touch with the government. However, I’d absolutely love to get some support from the government. This will allow me to compete in bigger championships and represent Pakistan on international levels.
It’s not just the government but support from other media. Also, support from other sporting heroes like Shoaib Akhtar, Faisal Qureshi, Wasim Akram, Ali Zafar, etc would also be helpful in amplifying this sport.
Q) UAE has motorsports infrastructure, do you have any plans for promoting this sport in Pakistan?
I do have plans indeed, a lot of them. From scratch to all the way up in the next 10 years on how we should tackle motorsports in Pakistan and develop the right platform for the local talent to grow and succeed. Not only limited to bikes, but also car enthusiasts.
We have some incredible cars & bikes in Pakistan as well as some amazing of the most passionate petrolheads you’ll ever find. I’d love to work with the government or other influential personalities in Pakistan who are keen on supporting the youth, both males and females into the motorsports world.
Q) Any message for young Pakistanis who would want to follow suit and become like you in the future?
Commitment and dedication pay off in the long run. Nothing is impossible, you want it, work hard for it and you’ll get it. I am here to support and guide as much as I can, but you need to be focused on yourself. Work on these 3 things to become a good rider;
1) Safety – A good, fast racer will always also be the safest. You will never find a racer riding without a helmet or safety gear as it is often frowned upon. Always do your best to wear full safety gear and encourage others to do the same.
2) Fitness – It’s a very tough sport, you need to have a lot of stamina and core strength. Eat clean, work out and be fit.
3) Passion – Watch every race you can, take every opportunity you can to learn, read, hear, watch. Try to use all possible free time to absorb wisdom, it’s out there in abundance from experienced racers. Fuel your passion through every means.
It is evident that talented motorsport professionals like Usman Ghani need recognition and support. The government should take initiatives to nurture such individuals.
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