When perseverance paid young rally enthusiast rich dividends

Samuel Abraham with trophies won at the Rally of Chamba

Samuel Abraham with trophies won at the Rally of Chamba

For a few seconds, 28-year-old Samuel Abraham felt like the world around him had gone dark as his oxygen level dropped alarmingly leaving him gasping for breath with his beloved motorcycle lying by the side.

With just another day to successfully complete and potentially emerge one of the winners in the Rally of Chamba, one of the toughest rally circuits in India, the young motor rally enthusiast from North Paravur wondered whether it was all sliding down along the icy slopes of Pangi-Killar Road, one of the most dangerous mountain roads in the country. Even that indemnity bond he had signed absolving organisers of any liability even if he met with a tragic end during the course of the rally flashed across his mind.

However, 20 minutes and some much-needed oxygen and pep talk by a few compassionate fellow rallyists, Mr. Abraham was back on his motorcycle. “They [fellow rallyists] were accustomed to high altitude unlike someone like me from Kerala and asked me to get a grip on my own mind, which, they said, was critical to surviving in those conditions. I sat there asking myself what I was there for and how important it was for me to complete the rally,” he recalled the most fearsome episode on the third day of the four-day rally organised by the Chamba district administration and the Himachal Pradesh government between June 15 and June 19.

The perseverance served him well, as he finished second in 220CC category and sixth in the overall category featuring motorcycles of up to 800CC power notching up a total of 600km.

Just before the incident, he had covered perhaps the most arduous 25-km stretch of his short rallying career along the high-altitude Sach Pass amid intense snowfall, a hail storm, rain and a hard uphill terrain with hardly any clear vision. Even his first runner-up finish in last year’s Rally of Himachal Pradesh did not prepare him for the challenges he encountered.

And challenges were galore. Even though the fourth day of the rally scheduled over a stretch of 210 km was called off owing to unrelenting snowfall, the participants still had to get back to the starting point in Chamba to be considered as having completed the circuit.

“We had to take a detour of 500 km and enter Himachal Pradesh through Jammu and Kashmir. While it left me dead exhausted, it also threw up some of the most memorable moments like when the men guarding the check-post at Himachal made tea for me,” said Mr. Abraham.

The young commerce graduate who is into his family’s share market business had to do some convincing of his family before taking to rallying. “I told them that rallying was safer than riding through our roads considering no vehicles will come from the opposite direction and safety gears are mandatory,” he said.

He now aims at participating in Dakar Rally, which is considered the world’s toughest event traversing an expanse of 9,000 km, like his mentor Harith Noah, a Malayali who had finished 20th in the overall category in the past.

But for the time being, he is focused on the Ultimate Desert Rally along the sand dunes of Rajasthan after an automobile major impressed by his performance in Chamba gave him an entry to the event.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 11:41:08 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/when-perseverance-paid-young-rally-enthusiast-rich-dividends/article65560459.ece