Gaurav Gill returns to lead JK Tyre's rallying programme

The three-time Asia Pacific champion, who was associated with MRF Racing till last year, would be in charge of all national and various international events and JK Tyre’s mentorship programme.

Gaurav Gill became the first Indian to win the FIA Asia-Pasific Rally Championship in 2013.   -  Special Arrangement

Having started his career with JK Tyre Go-karting more than two decades ago, prolific racer Gaurav Gill on Friday returned to the company as its mentor for upcoming drivers and the face of the all-new Team JK Tyre Rallying while setting new targets for himself for the upcoming season.

The three-time Asia Pacific and six times Indian National Rally champion, who was associated with MRF Racing till last year, would be in charge of all national and various international events and JK Tyre’s mentorship programme. “I am thrilled to be back with JK Tyre under whose guidance and inspiration I learnt everything about this beautiful sport,” Gill said during the announcement.

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“This is Chapter 2 for me. I started my career with Sanjay (Sharma) spotting me a small race in Delhi and went on to do rallying and racing and had a lot of success. I then moved on to other sponsors and they helped me achieve my international status and wins but it’s now time to push it to the next level and make sure I make a legacy out of this,” he added.

Starting with the opening leg of the INRC next week, Gill would also be testing the new vehicles being developed by his team Mahindra at par with the internationally acceptable FIA R2 standards. “It was extremely frustrating last year. The guys I compete against do 25-30 rallies a year, I do maximum 4-5 and I still match their timings. Last year I won 11 stages in World Championships which was the first ever in Indian motorsports history. This year, we are looking at making a few podiums and even win in WRC,” Gill said.

He is also eyeing a good finish at the European Rally Championship while simultaneously heading the Gaurav Gill Rallying Academy, shortlisting talented drivers from the existing grid and sharpening their skills. “We would also be launching cross-karts powered by 600cc superbike engines and run a series or maybe a championship out of it,”Gill explained.

JK Tyre’s Head of Motorsport Operations Sanjay Sharma insisted rallying could not exist in India in a vaccum. “One thing complements the other. Without introducing Go-karting, we could not have got racers like Gill or Armaan (Ibrahim) or Arjun (Maini). Similarly, before a driver turns 18 he cannot have a licence or race on tracks or drive so how can he be trained? The answer is cross-karts, one can’t exist without the other,” Sharma said.