Enjoying life in the fast lane

Sailesh Bolisetti…“I am thrilled at my British GT debut.”-C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

“My goal is to enter the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) and Le Mans racing,” says Sailesh Bolisetti who had a memorable debut in the 2012 British GT recently. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Sailesh Bolisetti is exploring new frontiers in the world of motorsport. The 22-year-old engineering graduate from Andhra University put up a creditable performance by finishing second in the two races he participated in, in the 2012 British GT at Oulton Park (Cheshire, UK) recently.

“I am thrilled at my British GT debut. But it would have been better if we (he and his team-mate Phil Glew of Australia) had won the races,” says the youngster from Visakhapatnam.

In a chat with Sportstar, Bolisetti shares his experience in the British GT and also talks of his passion for motorsport.

Question: What made you take up motor racing and who was your inspiration?

Answer: My dad was into logistics; we were on a road survey when I just casually thought of racing! My dad was very supportive and he called a couple of people to find out about racing. It was then that I found out about the race track in Chennai and started racing.

When did you think of taking up the sport very seriously?

After I won my first race in Chennai a couple of years ago, I felt that I could do better provided I get the learning time and exposure. I then decided to take up racing as a career and stick to racing in the Touring/Sports car class rather than Formula cars like everyone else.

How difficult was it when you started competing? What were the major hurdles, both on the track and off it?

In the initial stages of my racing, it wasn't very difficult. I used to go to the track (Madras Motor Sports Club track) in Chennai two days before the actual race and spend a day, training at the circuit in my race-prepared Esteem and then go for the race. It worked pretty well for me, and I consistently finished on the podium.

What are the major challenges for you in the days to come apart from the demanding British GT?

I have asked my team (Lotus Sport UK) to provide me with testing days at all the tracks where we will be racing this year so that I can get familiar with the track before the actual race. My team-mate Phil Glew is going to be there to guide me with the details of the car and the tracks.

What are the events lined up for you this year?

This year I'm just focusing on the British GT and nothing else. I'm done with the first round with two second-place finishes. There are six more rounds to go. The next round is in Nurburgring, Germany, (May 17-19).

Being an engineering graduate, do you believe that it helps in this sport?

Yes, it does. It helps me understand the driving data, which would be like Greek and Latin for the common man.

What is your goal?

My goal is to enter the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) and Le Mans racing.

How confident are you in realising your dream and what are the areas of support you are looking for?

Hard work pays…Sailesh Bolisetti and team-mate Phil Glew (right) of Lotus Sport finished second in the British GT at Oulton Park in Cheshire (UK).-

With hard work and a serious training schedule, I don't see it very far! This year, I have a wonderful team in GT4 (Lotus Sport UK) and a great team-mate (Phil Glew) — they are helping me in all ways! I need a sponsor for my racing as right now my dad is bearing all the expenditure.

What is your training schedule during off-season?

When not racing, there is nothing much I get to do with respect to training. I do play a lot of racing games on my PC and PS. This year, though, I have asked Lotus for testing sessions which would give me a bit of exposure to the other tracks in the UK, but it is just for seven days.

How are you managing in this expensive sport?

Last year, during my stint in the VW Scirocco Cup in Germany — which came as a championship reward for winning the inaugural VW Polo Cup India in 2010 — I was supported by Mr. Dhruv Kotak of VCTPL (Visakha Container Terminal). I really thank him a lot, but this year I couldn't get any sponsors so far. It would be great if some of the big companies can come forward and support me so that I can do much better in the next races.

Who are your idols and why?

Michael Schumacher would be my all-time favourite for the way he won the F1 championship seven times. And also Fernando Alonso.

What are your hobbies? What books do you read?

I usually spend most of my free time in the gym — about three hours a day. Not much of a bookish guy!

Having competed in two races in the British GT, what do you think is the big difference between racing abroad and taking part in the national circuit in terms of quality of tracks and the cars?

The race cars in India are about 130HP whereas Lotus Evora is 365HP — this is a major difference. And then, the drivers in the British GT are very experienced; they have driven a lot of cars and done loads of racing. But now, with the track in Greater Noida (near New Delhi) up and running and more and more racing series like the Audi and Toyota on their way, India will soon be become a motorsport hub.

What are your thoughts on Formula One?

It's the fastest form of motor racing with open wheels and the cars are made just for the F1 track. Where as I'm racing modified/tuned sports cars (closed wheel/Touring cars) that are not only made for racing but are also road cars. Like everyone else, I didn't get into racing through karts (for beginners aspiring to get into F1). In fact, I never drove a kart before I got into racing. I started my racing in a touring car and I want to continue in the touring car series and enter the DTM and Le Mans which are like the F1 in touring car racing.