Of racetracks and reels

Sailesh Bolisetti racing in the Volkswagen Vento Cup 2015   | Photo Credit: By special arrangement

Sailesh Bolisetti juggles multiple roles in life. He helps run his family’s clearing and forwarding business, is a franchisee for a fitness chain, and has a couple of Telugu film roles to his credit ( Mukunda and the soon-to-be-released Chal Chal Gurram). That’s just one side of the story, for the rest of his time is spent in racing gear, burning rubber on the track. The 27-year-old from Visakhapatnam(Vizag) won the inaugural Volkswagen Polo Cup in 2010 and went on to race internationally in the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup in Germany, before becoming the first Indian to participate in the British GT4 Championship in 2012 (and win a race at the legendary Nürburgring circuit), and race in the 2013 NASCAR Euro Series in France. He is now competing in the Volkswagen Vento Cup, the fourth and final round of which will be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Noida from November 27 to 29. Edited excerpts from an e-mail interview:

Q. You entered motorsport around the same time you entered college. What made you take the plunge?

A. I have always been fascinated by cars, so one day I decided that I would like to try my hand at racing and when I proposed this to my father he immediately agreed. So that’s basically how I got into motorsport, but my mother wanted me to concentrate more on education (engineering), hence I didn’t get to take up racing that seriously till 2010.

Q. In your opinion, What benefits do one-make racing championships like the Polo and Vento Cup bring to a country like India, where the motorsport scene is still developing?

Had it not been for the Polo Cup back in 2010, my international racing career would not have been easy. Volkswagen Motorsport got me all the exposure and the experience that is required for a fresher once he joins such a niche sport. So racing in the Polo Cup was definitely a boost to my racing career.

Q. You've achieved much in touring car championships, was open wheel racing ever part of the plan?

A. I was never much into open wheel racing, I like my comfort in the touring cars and single seaters are not as comfortable. Even my parents were uncomfortable with me racing in single seaters. Obviously open wheel racing isn’t as safe as the touring cars.

Q. A lot of Indian racers are disadvantaged by not entering the sport early enough. How important is it to get your feet wet early?

I do fall under this category, though my first race was back in 2006 when I was 18, it is too late to start in motorsport. By the time I actually got to race in the national championship in 2009, I was 21. Thanks to Radha (Selvaraj) uncle who was my coach, I was able to find pace from the first race and was directly fighting for the championship. Things might have been much different had I started racing from my early age like Aditya (Patel), Armaan (Ebrahim), Karun (Chandok) or Narain (Karthikeyan)! So that’s a major disadvantage. All these racers had started racing when they were not even 10 years old and that’s mostly because they are from the two places which had race tracks then.

Q. You've raced abroad with some success in GT4 and the NASCAR Euro Series. What was the experience like?

Racing in GT4 was fantastic because of the testing I got before the races and hence the wins and podiums. Though it did cost me a lot it was worth the effort. Lack of practice was the reason I wasn't on top in the (Volkswagen) Scirocco Cup, because my qualifying results were always bad but my fastest times in the race were well inside the top ten. But I guess my finishing position in my first international season was way better than any other Indian in their first year of racing abroad. I could see their standings online and that made me focus on testing first and racing next.

Q. There's one round left in this year's Vento Cup and you're fourth in the standings. What are your thoughts going into the finale?

A. A Did Not Finish (DNF) in the second round cost me a lot in the championship and then in the next race I had to start from the back of the grid and although I finished fourth it wasn’t very helpful. In the third round everything was going as planned and then the launch control didn’t work for the three races and there was nothing I could do about it. I was not sure if I would be able to race in the last round as my shooting schedule clashed with the race dates. But it has been rescheduled now, so I’m looking forward to racing in Round 4.

Q. What can we expect to see you in next?

A. I have signed a new film. So even I am not sure about my next move. But I am definitely not giving up racing whether I'm acting or into business or anything else. It has been my love and it always will be.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 4:43:24 AM |

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