Insatiable Gaurav Gill continues to dream big
Age is just a number for 37-year-old Gaurav Gill who feels he is the fastest and the fittest he has ever been.
There is an air of uncertainty when you approach Gaurav Gill for an interview. He is, arguably, India’s greatest motorsport athlete. He has travelled across the globe, competed in various formats, won challenging rallies, and has a wealth of experience under his belt. He was even awarded the Arjuna Award in 2019 – the first from his field to be honoured with the prestigious tag – in recognition to his contributions to the sport.
Yet, there is another side of Gill that worries you. He doesn't mince his words. Confrontational, some might say. No-holds-barred, others would argue. Elements that will have you worried which Gill was going to turn for the interview. But it's exactly these characteristics that make Gill the champion he is. His ultra-competitive spirit makes him stand apart.
“Why should I change?” he says, with a wry smile, when I ask him whether the ‘real’ Gaurav Gill was the same as the one media often portrayed.
Racing vs Rallying
Gill was in Chennai as part of the Delhi team competing in the X1Racing League – a franchise-based, six-team racing league. The first leg took place at the Buddh International Circuit (Noida) and the teams had come to Chennai for second-part of league to be held at Madras Motor Road Track.
But it was odd to see Gill in a smaller car, doing laps, instead of navigating through different terrains and challenging climatic conditions. The racer shot to fame with his exploits in the rallying circuits and therefore his stints with the racing remains unheard.
“I find it funny because I actually started racing when I was a lot younger. And I’ve spent a lot of time at the Chennai circuit. I’ve won three championships as well which nobody knows about. People tend to forget that because my exploits in rallying were far bigger,” explains Gill.
It is the truth. Gill’s name started popping up in headlines with his performances in the National Rally Championships and Asia Pacific Rally Championship. He is the first Indian to win the latter which earned him plaudits from across the globe.
Photo: Gaurav Gill of India Team MRF Tyres drives with Glenn MacNeall of Australia during the Great Orme stage on day four of the FIA World Rally Championship Great Britain on October 7, 2018 in Llandudno, Wales. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
But Gill remains open to all challenges and all formats. “I’ve always been about taking up and facing new challenges all my life,” says Gills who adds that he is really proud to be heading the Delhi franchise (AD Racing) in the X1Racing League.
Doing what you love
It has been a year of ups and downs for the racer. He became the first motorsports athlete to win an Arjuna Award in August and took part in the World Rally Championship 2 held in Turkey. But his life took a disastrous turn when he was involved in an accident that killed three during a race.
The 37-year-old, driving at more than 160 kmph, hit the apex coming out of a blind corner and before he could react, his car collided with a motorcycle, leading to the deaths of the trespassers.
“These kind of incidents teaches you everything about life. Life can’t be the same again. It has to change. It is obviously not easy to live with this when it is not your mistake,” Gill had said to PTI after the unfortunate incident.
But the racer is keen to move on, with a focus on improving his World Rally Championship positions in the upcoming years. Gill, has also taken up the role of a mentor, aiding youngsters in their quest to become rally drivers by opening up an academy. He says he is also in conversation with the sports ministry of the country to develop a one-of-a-kind finishing school for upcoming racers.
Gill continues to be insatiable, chasing new records to beat and milestones to conquer. “I’m driving the best I’ve driven in my life. I’m the fastest I’ve ever been. And I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. So I’m going to continue the way I am and my next goal is to win a World Rally Championship round,” promises an upbeat Gill.
His aim is to continue racing while also fostering the next generation of racers under his wings. “I didn’t have good teachers till I reached the world level and I want to ensure the upcoming generation doesn’t face such challenges,” adds Gill, whose academy in Coimbatore is slowly becoming to go-to destination for motorsports students.
But the real Gaurav Gill is a racer. And he promises there is no retirement in sight.