Speeding It Up: Akhil Rabindra
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that motorsports don’t level up to the same popularity in India as cricket or football. This fact however, didn’t stop the young Bengaluru lad, Akhil Rabindra, from hitting the tracks and becoming the only Asian picked for the Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy last year. In an exclusive interview, he talks to us about his journey, inspiration and future plans. Edited excerpts follow.
Let’s start from the beginning. What got you interested in racing in the first place?
I have always been passionate about cars and speed. There was an influence from my dad’s side of the family, since everyone is a car and bike enthusiast. Whenever we had family gatherings, we spoke about them a lot. So, personal interest coupled with the influence of my family is what got me interested in racing.
You started racing in the go-karting arenas of Bengaluru. From there, to being the only Asian picked for the Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy (AMR); how would you describe your journey?
The journey has been great so far. I have raced in multiple championships across the world; driven different cars, raced against people from all around the globe, and achieved many podium finishes. Go-karting taught me the basics of racing and the dynamics of a race car. Getting selected for the AMR was something equally special for me. We had specific training for on and off the track activities there, which further enhanced my driving abilities and presentation skills.
What is your take on the landscape of motorsports in India? Have things improved for the better since you started out?
I would say motorsports in India is definitely improving year on year. There are various championships being organised for newcomers to participate in. The number of go-karting tracks have increased since the time I started, but we still have only three racing tracks here, so we still have a long way to go. Various championships like Formula Junior Championships, Touring Car Championships, and the latest being the X1 Racing League serve as a great opportunity for young and aspiring racers.
If you were to pick one moment from your career so far that you are extremely proud of, what would it be?
There have been several moments that have stood out for me. The most recent one being when my teammate and I secured the second position at the Brands Hatch. When I was handed over the car, I had about 33 minutes of driving left to do, and had two competitors right behind me. This was a test of my ability to be extremely consistent with lap times, make minimal mistakes, and maintain composure.
At a young age of 23, you have achieved what many only dream of pulling off. What has been the driving force that inspires you to keep moving forward?
I’m a car guy, you put me into a racecar and you’ll find the biggest smile on my face. I have a consistent desire to race, compete, win and learn. I have several motorsport goals that I still need to accomplish, and I am always chasing them. I’ve certainly been blessed with a supportive family, which has helped me further.
You stand at number 3 in the European Championship 2019 GT CARS Drivers per class. What is your advice to all the budding racing drivers in India?
My advice is very simple. Focus on mastering your basics, don’t rush things, and be process focused rather than being outcome oriented. One has to always remember that there are other racing drivers out there who want the exact same thing and are working very hard for it, so it’s all about making the best decisions possible with minimal mistakes. Follow the steps and processes and the results will follow.
Practice makes a man perfect. What special training do you follow to keep fit and perform well on the track?
Fitness and nutrition are a huge part of my life. My training varies at different times of the year, but I am mainly focused on strength and endurance, as I need trained and conditioned muscles to stay as fit for the last lap, as I am during the first lap. Since racing on the physical track is difficult, the next best option is to do simulator training. Sims are really good for practicing new techniques before you reach the race weekend.
Your team, PROsport Performance bagged the first podium with the New Aston Martin Vantage GT4, and won the 24H Series European GT at Circuit de Spa- Francorchamps Belgium in 2019. It is safe to say that you have shown steady growth as a racer. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
It was great to get the first ever podium in the brand new Aston Martin Vantage GT4, at the 12 hour race in Mugello. Some races are special, like those where history is made. I see myself being a factory driver in the next five years, which means that I will be employed by a car manufacturer to race for them and represent them in various championships. There are definitely a few steps between where I am and where I need to be, but I’ll be working very hard to achieve my goals.