Life on the fast lane has been an informed choice and now my passion too.
With my first karting victory in 2000, at the age of 7, I entered the world of motorsports, which was also my father's passion. The winning streak went on for the next seven years as I competed in the 2- stroke JK Tyre National Rotax-Max Karting championship. My mentor, a veteran Formula 2 driver, Akbar Ebrahim gave me the opportunity to test drive the Formula BMW Asia car at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. I then went on to win the Indian national Rotax-Max Senior Championship, which enabled me to represent India in the Rotax World Finals 2009 in Egypt, where I competed in the DD2 shifter kart category alongside world class drivers.
Making a mark
Indian motorsports, guided by FMSCI (Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India), has come a long way. With the addition of the Volkswagen touring car series, the Polo Cup India, the sport has a bright future. The first ever Polo Cup kicked off early this year. Volkswagen held a rigorous selection process requiring us to test in both go karts and the Volkswagen Polo Cup cars. Their theory and technical sessions conducted by the Volkswagen driver coaches throughout the series really helped me perfect my racing skills in touring cars, something in which I had no prior experience. The uniformly tuned Polo Cup cars gave all the drivers a level playing field, allowing us to showcase our technical skills and racing talents. The technical briefing classes held after each session of practice helped test our receptiveness and ability to apply what we had been taught.
The racing experience with Volkswagen Polo Cup India has been very rewarding. I qualified on pole in 4 of the 6 qualifying sessions, placed 1st in 3 races, 2nd in 2 races and 3rd in 2 races. After the 12 races of the 6 leg series, I became the 2nd runner-up in the overall championship with a total of 377 points. Despite being on pole, my fellow, highly competitive drivers who were lined up behind me, didn't make it an easy start. With everyone focussed on for the podium I had to keep an eye on the rear view mirror constantly, leaving no room for errors. And with such a tightly packed grid my lap times needed to be highly consistent until I cross the checkered flag.
The uniqueness of the Volkswagen Polo Cup India championship is the reverse grid system, where the first top 8 racers from the 1st race of the day start in the reverse order in the second race. This feature greatly helped me improve my racing and overtaking manoeuvres as I had to fight my way up through to take the podium. The Polo Cup wasn't just about teaching us about racing. Besides the theory and technical sessions, Volkswagen also organised a fitness camp for the drivers. It helped assess my fitness levels and the scope for improvement to match European standards. The evaluation process revealed the fitness requirement at the start line, where the temperature within the car exceeds 55 degrees. During the fitness camp I was given a strict workout regime to help boost my stamina and was also provided with a specific diet plan, which I am strictly following.
The safety standards of the Race Polo cars made this a very safe experience. The technical support extended by the Volkswagen mechanics was amazing. The speed and precision with which they worked reflects their technical knowledge and expertise. Mr. Akbar Ebrahim was a major influence on the technical setup of my car which certainly made a difference in the way it performed. He has also mentored me throughout this entire process and has been coaching me right from my karting days. Hopefully my experience in the Polo Cup has paved the way for me to participate in the Formula One support races that will be held in India in 2011.
Professional aim: To become the world champion in F1
Hobbies: Playing football
Favourite Sport: Football
Motorsport Idol: Michael Schumacher
Career Highlights: Won the championship in several classes in the JK Tyre National Rotax Max Karting Championship