An engineer and a management graduate, Jagmeet Gill takes the chequered flag at Raid de Himalaya 2013
Doctor-engineer syndrome has grappled psyche of Indians since ages. Jagmeet Gill also got bit by the bug but eventually found his calling in the form of octane power. The 30-year-old Electronics Engineer.
Gill won the Adventure Trial 4W category at the prestigious Raid de Himalaya’s 2013 edition. And to prove that wasn’t a flash in the pan, he backed it up with a win at the Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally at Dehradun in December of 2013.
We caught up with the Punjab University Management graduate to know what made him trade the excel sheet with gear ratios, this is what he had to say.
How did you get involved in racing?
I was enroute Leh with my friends in 2007 and I saw Raid de Himalaya taking place. I was always fond of cars and driving, and that was the moment when I decided to start rallying.
Tell us about your experience winning the Raid in Adventure Trial category.
I won the overall adventure category in 2013 with a record penalty of 3 min 46 sec. This is the best time in the history of adventure category for 6 days of raid. I was leading in the results for all 6 days. It is one of the greatest win I’ve had and I’m really happy for that.
Why Adventure Trial and not X-Treme 4X4?
My first rally was in Oct 2008 which was the Raid de Himalaya. First timers are allowed only in the Adventure category and not in X-treme. Later, I started performing well in the same category and was picked by Team Maruti in 2011, hence, I continued with Adventure Trail. However, I do have plans to participate in the Xtreme category in future; hopefully, Maurti will soon give me that opportunity.
You said you recently got Grand Vitara, how is driving the Grand Vitara different than Gypsy? Which one do you prefer?
Grand Vitara is better for Desert Storm where top end speed is needed for open sections. It is more comfortable to drive and is the best machine Suzuki has to offer. However Gypsy is much more tough and easy on maintainence. It’s well-suited for rallies like Raid de Himalaya.
In your dream garage, which cars will we find?
Presently, I have an American motorcycle, an European sedan, a Japanese SUV and an Indian off-roader. Certainly would like to add an Audi R8 and Range Rover Sport in the future.
Has the sponsorship scene changed over the years? Is it better than what it was when you started out or still the same?
Sponsors are still tough to come for new comers, and also for people who have some years of experience. However the scene has improved over the years and it’s much better than what it was when I started rallying. Now, we have manufacturers like Maruti, Mahindra and Tata, and also JK tyre and Yokohama promoting the sport. I personally believe that the sponsors still have to come a long way in promoting rallying in India.
In India, can racing be a full time career option?
Yes, it can be, only if the sponsors shell in more to promote the sport and trust their drivers to perform well internationally too.
What more needs to be done in India to ensure the growth of Motorsports?
Better infrastructure for training, more awareness for Motorsport activities, more sponsors and most importantly, recognizing Motorsport as a sport by the Government of India. Presently, of all the Indian states, only Maharashtra recognizes Motorsport as a form of sport.
We certainly hope that Jagmeet’s wishes come true and more and more sponsors start supporting Motorsport events as well as the athletes; and hopefully, soon enough, the Government of India will recognize Motorsport as a form of sport and entertainment.
We wish him all the best for his future endeavors and hope to see him racing with the big boys at Raid de Himalaya, in the X-Treme category, soon enough.
If you have any thoughts about the state of Motorsport and/or sponsorship in India, feel free to share your views in the box below