This month, Racer’s Pulse met with the renowned international rally racer, Gaurav Gill, facilitated by Mobil, the leading lubricant brand. Gaurav is a renowned name in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship Arena and he is one of India’s top racing stars. He is famously remembered for starring alongside the Cricketing Hero Virat Kohli for the MRF Tyres advertisement for the World Cup and T-20 Series. We had the opportunity to interview Gaurav amidst the excitement of the Night Races held at the Pannala Race Track very recently. This event was organized by the Asian Motor Racing Club (AMRC) in association with the Sri Lanka Racing Drivers and Riders (SLARDAR)
Gaurav goes down in history as the first ever Indian to win the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championships. Ever since he has dominated the event, securing first or second places in more than a dozen or so races he has competed to date. Gaurav, who won the 2016 Asia Pacific Rally Championship title, established a world record of becoming the only driver in motorsport history to take home an FIA crown after securing all wins in all races of the season.
On his Sri Lankan Experience
“Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with a lot of beautiful sceneries. It is a nice tourism destination. This is my Second visit to Sri Lanka and this time it is to test the soil in Sri Lanka”, said Gaurav. He extended his special thanks to Dinesh Jayawardena for inviting him and allowing him to drive his car. Also he thanked the Mobil team for their warm Hospitality.
“I hail from a family who is passionate about Racing. My Uncles were into full time Racing & Rally Car Racing. They were in to this Motor Sport. Having racing cars and Rally cars at home inspired me to be a Racer. I started at a very young age”.
Gaurav got into motorsport, racing motor cycles, and competed in the National Motor cross Championship in 1999. He moved to 4-wheel racing and started competing in car rallies, endurance races and signed up for the Raid-de-Himalaya in 2000. He became the runner-up in the National Road Racing Championship in 2003 and won the title in the following year. He finished the 2006 season second overall. In 2007, Gaurav won the National Rally Championship with Team MRF and made his debut at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. From 2009 onwards he was lucky enough to do the APRC full series with the help of MRF Tyres as his Partner. He finished as the runner up in the APRC in 2013 and became the first Indian to win the title in 2014.
For me, I think it is about the Commitment, Dedication and Passion. To win any sport whether it is Cricket, Golf, Racing or any other profession, your commitment, dedication and passion matters. These are the essential contributing factors for being able to move forward and ultimately win.
Challenges in Life
Like in Sri Lanka the vehicle Duty structure is very high in India. So getting one’s own powerful car is a challenge. Also upgrading the car takes time. So the process is a bit slower than we would anticipate it to be, though we have big dreams, they take time achieving. But overcoming those difficulties makes us stronger than the competitors who come to the field equipped with all the facilities.
Also, even though APRC is an Asia Pacific related races it is open to European Drivers as well and they are indeed strong competitors when it comes to rally racing. Also New Zealand, Australian and New Caledonian Rally tracks are different from Sri Lankan and Indian ones. European Drivers have experience and the opportunities to practice with the newest facilities. It’s very challenging to compete against them. Generally the European Drivers get many racing opportunities as professional racers year around. They at least drive 20 to 30 races a year. The limited resources are the biggest challenge for us. At the moment I get 10 races per year. Getting many opportunities to race makes us professional racers. Even though we get a limited time behind the wheel still our passion drives us to overcome the challenges.
I have established my Racing School in Coimbatore. The purpose of the school is to assist the Future Racing Drivers & to help them achieve their dreams faster than I made it in to the International level. My school is an International Racing school and invites every passionate driver to come and learn the sport. So currently my racing school keeps me busy apart from my regular travelling schedule. Also the school is another way of giving back to the society. So I share my knowledge & experience with others to make them champions one day, it indeed is a very fulfilling experience.
Message to the Sri Lankan Racing Fraternity
Sri Lanka needs young drivers and fresh talent. Young drivers are the future of the sport. The authorities should help the youngsters. In India our Federation comes forward once they identify the potential. Also the experienced drivers should help the younger generation by sharing their experiences, expertise and knowledge.
Message to the Youth
Your dedication, commitment and passion make you a winner. Racing is difficult until you reach the top. Nothing comes easy. So work hard to reach the top. When you are working hard sponsors will come forward to support you. For me it took a few years to get MRF as my partner. But now for almost a decade I’m working with them and they are part of my family now.
To win a Championship you need to have a team to back you up. Especially you need to have a great relationship with your Engineer and Mechanic. Also everyone in the team will contribute for your win. Appreciate their efforts. When they create the platform for you it becomes your duty to Race and to win. I take race by race & that really helps me, and I would like to share the same idea with the youth.
Prophesying the possible Future
I’m planning to expand my Rally school in Delhi. That is something I’m focused on in achieving. Taking part in Rally Dhaka is another dream. We are planning for the 2019 or 2020.It is a lot of dedication & commitment. We need a lot of money & a lot of sponsorships to go for that. I hope to reach the dream as early as possible.