Rallying genes come alive 18 years after retirement

Kirti Patil
Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The former President of the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI), national governing body for motorsports, will be taking part in the first round of the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) to be held around the Madras Motorsports Race Track in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai on April 28-29.

PUNE: Four years short of celebrating golden jubilee of his race and rally driving career, the veritable Vicky Chandhok has decided to get back into overalls—18 years after he quit competitive rallying.

Ever since he quit driving in 2000, Vicky has donned many hats in motorsports’ administrative capacity, but the urge to get behind the wheels of a race car seems to have inspired him to get back to rallying at the age of 61, but for a sportsman age is no barrier.

The former President of the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI), national governing body for motorsports, will be taking part in the first round of the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) to be held around the Madras Motorsports Race Track in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai on April 28-29.

During the intervening years he became administrator and managed his elder son Karun’s motorsports career, while his younger son Suhail dabbled differently and is now an expert commentator on kabaddi, thanks to the hugely successful Pro Kabaddi League.

Though Karun’s Formula One career was shortlived--he drove for Renault-powered Lotus--Vicky always pushed him to achieve greater heights in marquee championships where a very few Indians attempt at.

Vicky will drive the Volkswagen Polo R2 rally car alongside co-driver Chandramouli from Benglauru, but is still not sure whether he would do the entire six-rally season.

“When I had a chance to test the VW Polo R2, which is a thoroughbred rally car with 1600HP engine and rally gearbox and hand brakes, I wanted to try it competitively,” said Vicky of his decision to return to rallying.

“I am under no illusions or expecting miracles in terms of performance. I want to test myself against the new crop of racers that we have and see how the standards have evolved, be it up or down.

“This also gives us a chance to find out if we have talents like Gaurav Gill that we have not spotted till now and identify them and help them,” said Vicky, the head of Asia-Pacific Rally Commission.

PUNE CONNECTION OF POLO R2
The car Vicky will drive is the Volkswagen Polo R2 rally car developed by Volkswagen Motorsport India under the leadership of Sirish Vissa, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India.

“After test driving the Volkswagen Polo R2 earlier this year in Chennai, I was convinced that it is the perfect drive for me to make my comeback. Volkswagen Motorsport has had a rich legacy of rallying worldwide and in India and are known to craft some wonderful and competitive rally cars,” said Vicky as he gets ready for gruelling driving.

“Alongside the development of our Ameo Cup cars for the upcoming season, the team has also been working simultaneously on the development of the Volkswagen Polo R2 rally car. The R2 rally car has gone through extensive testing and we are excited to see how well the car will perform this season,” explained Vissa.

VICKY CHANDHOK FACTFILE
- Vicky Chandhok began his driving career way back 1972 and continued racing and rallying throughout the next 28 years, until his final competitive outing at the South India Rally in 2000 in Mitsubishi Lancer, which he won.
- In that period he competed and won races all over India in Formula Fords, Formula Indians, Formula 3 and Formula 2 cars during the heyday of Indian motorsport.
- As a driver, Vicky won some of India’s biggest Rallies - the Himalayan Rally, the Rallye D’ Endurance, the South India Rally in Chennai, the Popular Rally in Kerala and the Charminar Challenge in Hyderabad.

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