India's Rally Driver: Gaurav Gill
FHM: Team FHM is practically clueless about rally racing, but even we know that you are a big deal, so that kind of makes you more popular than the sport?
GG: Well, that sounds privileged, but it should be the other way round! The sport of rallying is quite different from other disciplines of racing. It’s a lot more intense in terms of driver skill levels, endurance and the ability to understand the terrain that you’ve not been on before while doing triple digit speeds on gravel, snow and sometimes ice as well. So it’s important that you start following me as well as the rally circuit.
FHM: How does it feel to create history?
GG: I’m ecstatic about being the first ever Indian Asia Pacific Rallying Champion (APRC) and no one can take that away from me.
FHM: We hear you suffered a puncture during the race, did you curse god for it?
GG: I didn’t curse God, but rather asked him to forgive my suspension parts and get me out of trouble so I could hit the road at the earliest.
FHM: You have said that 2013 wasn’t an easy year for you – why so?
GG: When you’re up against drivers who drive all year around compared to me who only gets 6-7 occasions to drive the car, it becomes extremely difficult to cope up with the precision required for driving on different surfaces. As a result, I also get less time to learn about the car and set it up for the rallies.
FHM: You drive a Skoda Fabia, how have you tweaked your car?
GG: It’s a totally different monster. It costs about 30 times the cost of the standard model and is about 30 times faster.
FHM: How does the car look after the race?
GG: Not anywhere close to what it looks like at the start. Sometimes there is a lot of damage and huge bills to foot! So naturally, we are surely not a favourite of the technical support team, but when the race ends in a victory, nothing else matters. It’s a real man’s sport, it comes with dents and bumps.
FHM: So where and how should we start following rally racing?
GG: Just if you wish to drive, you too can be a rally driver gunning in your old Esteem. Just slap in a roll cage, add a good suspension and go practice on a empty piece of land or a gravel stretch and see if you can handle the car when it slaps you from the back end. If you can, then just cash in on your talent. And at best, just follow me on Twitter.
FHM: Sponsorships must be tough to find.
GG: It has always been so, hasn’t it? I have been lucky to have MRF as my main sponsors.
FHM: Is that the only thing that’s stopping you from participating in WRC?
GG: Yep. I’ve been outpacing the WRC drivers in the last three years, but in this cricket crazy nation, no one wants to sponsor rally drivers.
FHM: What are the costs of rally racing?
GG: 10-15 cr annually depending on the teams.
FHM: Do you play music while racing?
GG: That’s suicidal. The only music you hear are the engine notes and the pace notes.
FHM: What happens inside the cockpit.
GG: Lots of information about the angle of the corners, the distance between them and surface changes yelled out by the co-driver. There’s a constant flow of info at every rate to the driver so that he can choose the perfect speed to get into a drift around a corner at insane speeds whether in the mountains or through very fast forest roads.
FHM: You must not be finding potholes on the roads too troublesome, right?
GG: I hate potholes. They ruined a set of nice wheels on my personal car recently. The rally car has special suspensions to ride over them with utmost ease so we don’t face pothole problems.
FHM: Have you ever taken your parents/relatives out for a spin on the tracks?
GG: My wife loves speed and I literally have to pull her out of the car sometimes.
FHM: Racing is quite an envious profession, do you like the attention you get?
GG: Oh yes, who wouldn’t? But it’s not all that easy and it can get really rough out there.
FHM: Any parting lines?
GG: Get a car, start practicing and try not to crash while drifting!