Akhil Rabindra thrives in perseverance and passion when it comes to motorsport racing. The only Indian and the first Asian to be selected by the Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy, Akhil is currently one of the hottest Indian prospects in the racing circuit.
Driving for the Hyderabad Blackbirds in the Indian Racing League (IRL) 2022 - India’s first-ever street circuit race - the 26-year-old is optimistic about the future of racing in India even as he emphasises the need for better facilities and opportunities.
“Racing is a very expensive sport, and a lot of infrastructure is required. You need a lot of financial backing to be in the circuit constantly and that’s a challenge. But today, it has become a bit easier as Indian racers who are going abroad can help youngsters by raising money for them. Back in the day when the likes of Narain Karthikeyan were driving, it was difficult but now things have changed and the push that we have got is very good for Indian racers for the future,” Akhil said in an exclusive interaction with Sportstar in Hyderabad.
The city is hosting the inaugural edition of Indian Street Circuit car races and the Hyderabad Blackbirds racer is confident of his team’s chances of winning the title. “The goal is to win and the track looks good. It’s a very good opportunity for drivers in India and it’s great to be racing in Hyderabad. All and all it is ticking every box,” he said.
Racing cars at breakneck speed has been a passion for Akhil, who has the experience of racing across the European and American tracks.
Go-karting the stepping stone
Speaking about how youngsters should approach the sport, the driver who won the 2019 24H GT Series European at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium said, “Go-karting is the foundation of racing and once you perform there it opens up a lot of avenues like F1, rallying, GT car racing and one has to put a lot of years in karting. If you look at any Formula One driver, they must have karted for around 5-10 years. Go Karting is a good benchmark of how good you are and once you master that, you can look at other departments of which kind of racer you want to become. For Indian racers, today is the best opportunity to start racing as there are better facilities.”
Motor racing requires an equal amount of physical and mental training and the Bengaluru-born racer feels that racers should have more opportunities to hone their racing skills.
“Like any sport, there is a lot of hard work required in racing also, both physical and mental. The biggest thing in our sport is that the training is hard. In cricket or football, you can train wherever you want and access is easy. You can even train in a small space and can practice even at home with a bat and ball. But in our sport, we need a race car, track, tyres and fuel. Because it’s expensive the practice is limited and it makes opportunities also limited,” he said.
India’s only GT4 racer, Akhil has the rare achievement of getting selected by the Aston Martin Racing Academy for the third consecutive year. “It’s a huge achievement and the facilities are amazing. From the training to the technical aspect of it and the expertise they bring is brilliant,” he said.
Formula E comes to India
Hyderabad is all set to host the Formula E early next year and the IRL races are like the trial run for 2023 Hyderabad E-Prix.
“I am very excited and Formula E is great and that’s the future. Formula E keeps the enthusiasm alive and they are fast cars and it’s awesome that it is coming to Hyderabad. We haven’t had any international racing in India for a long time and with Formula E being such a big brand, it goes all around the world and it’s going to be a big push for India,” Akhil said.