Gill: 'Motorsport is slowly getting its due recognition'

The Arjuna awardee hopes the X1 Racing League becomes successful and gains popularity among Indian fans.

Gaurav Gill hopes the XI Racing League , which begins on November 30, becomes successful enough to attract more sponsorship in the future.   -  M. Periasamy

With some of the world's best racers from across formats, the XI Racing League aims to hand Indian fans a spectacular experience of racing. Gaurav Gill, who will race for the AD Racing Delhi team, points out the league's “unique” format distinguishes it from other franchise-based sports leagues in India.

“One of the unique factors here is that we've got an Indian international driver like me who's Indian and who's been in the international arena. Now we've got international drivers who's been either in F1 or ex-F1, or Le Mans – so they're all different kinds of racers. And then we've got lady drivers. Then we have junior drivers and they're Indian. So we've got a big mix of different people who are going to be racing within the team to pick up points,” Gill told Sportstar  at an interaction here.

Gill hopes the league, which begins on November 30, becomes successful enough to attract more sponsorship in the future. “[The idea is] just to put a package together with the right names and the right guys with the right cars,” he said.

Motorsport may be a niche sport in India but it is slowly getting its due recognition, observed Gill.

“It's slowly getting recognition. I've been awarded the Arjuna award recently, so it's big thanks to the Sports Ministry and the Hon'ble Minister (Kiren Rijiju) for looking at us as a sporting background (sic) and given the fact that we guys can be fitter than most other sports, so why not? But since it's a niche sport it will take a little bit of time [to come into the mainstream],” he said.

Motorsport is not a sport just for the wealthy, felt Gill. He said he hadn't spent any money while taking his first steps and making his reputation as a driver. So, who handed him his first car?

“Luckily, I had a friend who gave me my first car and then from thereon I had sponsors like JK Tyres, then I progressed further on, then I had MRF – I was with MRF for many years, and I'm back now [with] JK Tyres, so they're funding me and funding my talent at the world level now,” he said.

The tournament will be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida and the MMRC in Tamil Nadu.

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