Arjuna Award nominee Gaurav Gill insists racers deserve to be recognised as athletes, not entertainers

India's most renowned rally driver Gaurav Gill has made an impassioned case for himself after he was nominated for the Arjuna Award on Wednesday by Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), the regulating body for motorsports in India.

Gaurav Gill

Gaurav Gill

No one from the motorsport fraternity has ever been bestowed with the coveted Arjuna Award. Gill was nominated two years ago, but was not on the list of 17 athletes conferred with the honour, which included names like cricketer Rohit Sharma, shooter Jitu Rai, badminton ace Kidambi Srikanth, gymnast Dipa Karmakar and hockey player PR Sreejesh.

"All we can do is keep trying and hope people realise that those who pursue motorsports are as much athletes as others. An Arjuna Award for me would mean a lot. Since it is among the topmost honours for sportspersons in the country, it would send out the message that racers and drivers are not entertainers, we're athletes. It would say that motorsports are also capable of producing champions at par with world class athletes who emerge out of other sports," Gill told Firstpost in an interview on Thursday.

"Motorsport is far tougher than sports like chess, golf, carrom and those like snooker and billiards. In some of these sports, you do not necessarily need any fitness," the 35-year-old added.

Motorsport is one of those sporting disciplines requiring incredible endurance. Formula One drivers can experience severe G-forces, a physical force which is equivalent to one unit of gravity, as they accelerate, corner, and brake during races.

While rally drivers experience 2 Gs, far lesser than the 6 Gs that F1 drivers experience, drivers also have to contend with other forces. Sometimes the cabin temperatures in rally cars reach upto 60 degree Celcius. Bear in mind that racers wear four layers of clothing, some of them padded. On race days, they zoom around tracks for as many as 14 hours a day.

"Sometimes, people pass out! We endure extreme temperatures," Gill pointed out.

But over the years, Gill has found his comfort zone even in such testing conditions.

Gill, who has won the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in 2013 and 2016, claimed the International Rally of Whangarei last week which is the first round of FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship. At Whangarei, Gill overturned a 33-second deficit to wrest the race away from overnight leader and Team MRF Tyres teammate Ole Christian Veiby.

But the race that the driver desperately wants to win is the one for the Arjuna Award.

Updated Date: May 05, 2017 11:07 AM

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