Gaurav Gill, a name synonymous with rally driving on an international level, was recently in Delhi. We got in a conversation with him to find out his take on the motorsport scene in the country, when should one start if considering this sport as a career option and a number of his personal likings from the world of rallying. The first thing that Gaurav sternly pointed out is safety. According to him, practising racing in any form on any vehicle on a public road will not just put you, but other road users at risk as well. The best way to hone your skills is to take your vehicle on a track day at a local race track where the environment is controlled. He also went ahead to add that in case there isn't a race track, empty parking lots with requisite permissions from authorities can also be used, however, this can be tedious.
The ace rally driver started his career in motorsports at the age of 15 when he used to practice in go-karts on a closed circuit of a known person. After that, he moved over to rally cars as well as racing motorcycles. Since late 1999, he started driving rally cars with JK Tyres and he endorsed the fact that the sport has come a long way from where it was a decade ago when he started. For enthusiasts, he also stated that the best way to take up rallying as a career is to apply for a one-make series which are organised by some automobile manufacturers in the country. The veteran rally driver will also soon be coming up with his new training academy in Gurugram which would enhance skills of a driver on a dirt track. A 90-minute crash course along with a phased professional course will be available at the academy.
In addition to the basics of rallying, Gaurav also pointed out that one has to be not just physically, but mentally fit as well. Since some of the races focus more on endurance with the driver as well as the navigator wearing up to five layers of fire proof clothing, they can lose up to 10 kg of water weight during an event. The participants also have to take care of keeping a lower heart rate during the rally so as not to exert unnecessary stress on their body and mind. Doing so would lead to fatigue and lack of concentration would creep in. Gaurav's schedule includes workouts that help in keeping a lower heart rate such as yoga. This is in addition to other physical activities as well.
The challenges according to Gaurav are the availability of facilities, along with the fact that getting into this sport is expensive. That said, the veteran driver also stated that manufacturers organising a number of race events where people can bring in their production car and compete with other competitors have also improved the state of affordable motorsport events in the country. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of acceptance for the sport amongst the masses.
Moving over to his personal life, the best rally car Gaurav has driven so far is the Skoda that enabled him to win the Round 1 APRC rally. The cars he would want to drive in a rally are the Cosworth Escort and the Audi Quattro cars that are and some of them were a part of international rallies. He currently owns a BMW M3 which gets the supercharger treatment and churns out a massive 600 hp of power with a manual transmission. The production car which Gaurav wants to own is the Shelby GT500 Mustang, but, not a new one. He has a work in progress and soon there will be news of his latest addition. The motorcycle he loves is his Ducati Diavel and according to him, it is one of the best looking motorcycles he has seen till date. We don't doubt that as Italians know how to mix art into motorcycles. The one endurance race in which Gaurav wishes to compete is the Dakar Rally, claimed to be the most gruesome rally in the world.
The last message that Gaurav stated for his followers and enthusiasts is that it is very important to value one's life. Enforcement of law along with self-preservation will improve a number of things and reduce accidents. In addition, what Gaurav very aptly pointed out is that driving recklessly on public roads will not make a difference of, at best, 30 seconds. Driver's licence should also be issued with even more stringent tests. Another key aspect he touched upon is educating children right from the school level which would make a lot of difference.