Home FEATURES Gaurav Gill: India’s shot at the World Rally Championship?

Gaurav Gill: India’s shot at the World Rally Championship?

Gaurav Gill
Picture Source: Twitter

Can India ever make it to the World Rally Championship podium? Most Motorsport pundits and analysts would answer this question with a simple nod or a not-so-enthusiastic remark. You’ll probably get a  “Maybe if they work hard enough” or even an “I don’t see that happening”. This response would be quite reasonable, because ever since the 1973 inaugural season of the WRC, India hasn’t been anywhere near the podium. Neither in the Drivers’ championship nor in the Manufacturers’ championship. 

But, I’m rather hoping to see a few Indian names in the WRC standings pretty soon. This hope stems from the performance of one outstanding Indian driver, 3-time Asia-Pacific Rally Champion & Arjuna Awardee, Gaurav Gill.

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Gill’s Career so far

Starting in 1999, Gill first raced in the National Motocross Championship. Next season, he moved to compete in Raid-de-Himalaya, the world’s highest cross-country rally event. In 2004, he was crowned champion at the National Road Racing Championship. Since then, Gill has had a stellar career with countless podiums and dozens of wins under his belt. The latest of them include the 2018 Indian National Rally Championship which he won for the sixth time and a fifth win at the 2019 Popular Rally alongside his trusted navigator, Musa Sherif.

Gill entered the international rally stage with MRF in December of 2007 and got the chance to race on the 15th stage of the WRC. But, they couldn’t reach the top, even in later seasons. This was due to many reasons. One of them being the fact that most international drivers get around 5 times more practice and track time because of the sheer scale at which European manufacturers invest and participate in the sport.

“Unfortunately, there’s no training, and the only way I can train is by driving our Mahindra R2 car here in India. But, again, that’s far from what an R5 car can do, because the WRC cars are seriously quick,” Gill revealed to AutoX.

What makes us Optimistic?

The 38-year-old champ is currently signed up with JK Tyre, already racing in the WRC-2, a companion rally series to the WRC. It’s for slightly lower-end cars that meet S2000 or R5 regulations. JK Tyre will most likely set Gill up with a Ford Fiesta Ecoboost R5 for next season, which is capable of unleashing 290 horsepower and more than 470 Newton meters of torque. No doubt, an absolute beast that will tear up the mud at any rally stage.

Gaurav and JK have together contributed to the ‘Cross Kart Program’ and ‘Gill Motorsport Program’. Both of which work with rising talents and get them on the dirt,“By next year’s championship, we should have two guys ready to drive two fully-prepared R2 cars here,” Gill said to EvoIndia in September.

Even if the JK team, with Gill at the helm, don’t clinch the title of World Rally Champion in the next few seasons. They have surely paved the way for a full-blown all-Indian WRC team, all set for a shot at the WRC.

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