Two-time Asia Pacific Rally champion Gaurav Gill, who has been recommended by the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) for the prestigious Arjuna Award, has urged the sports fraternity not to consider them as mere entertainers but as sportspersons.
"It's great to be nominated for the Arjuna Award. I cannot thank the federation enough. I hope the sport committee realises us as top sportsperson and not entertainers," Gaurav told ANI in an exclusive telephonic conversation.
Gill has been recommended by the FMSCI for the sporting honour for the second time in three years.
The 35-year-old, who won the series opener in New Zealand last week, is the reigning APRC champion and won the trophy for the first time in 2013.
Talking about his achievement, Gill said he wants to see other drivers from the country showing the world that Indians can be as competitive as others.
"Well, it's a special feeling to be the only person from a country which has over a billion population. I would also want to see other drivers from our country and follow the sport and show the entire world that we from India can be as competitive as others," he said.
When asked why motorsport rally was still not that popular in India, Gill said, "Because people think it's a luxury sport. People think it's a sport for rich people. I am glad that I have proved it that without money and with talent, right timing and right opportunity, you can do really well.
"I did not spend any money. I had the talent so I decided to pursue it and only doing this. It can be a career. The only factor is everything is so expensive. All the things that come to our country have to go through duties and thus increase the cost," he added.
The racer maintained that in order to promote the sport in India, the government should waive off taxes on the sports equipments.
"I think something that is very possible is the government allows us to waive taxes off. You know the equipments and the parts which are used for motorsport only. It will give a massive boost to the sport. For example, a set of suspension cost 10000 USD. By the time it reaches India and comes to us, it costs Rs 10 lakhs. So, if those duties that are charged on the equipments can be waived off, that does gonna be a big push for lot of people," he said.
"It's not a big thing for the government to waive off duties and taxes. It is not coming in a big bulk that the government will lose money. It's a very small amount and it will give a big boost to the sport because only a few hundred people do this in the country. It's not that a few million people are following the sport and are doing it so that the government will lose the revenue," he added.
When asked as to which racer he looks after or admires, the Rally driver said, "I don't really have an idol but I admire an old driver whose name is Colin Mcrae. He used to be a very popular driver and is known for his flat out driving style. I really used to admire him. As far as idols are concerned, I always push myself to myself year from year."
Gill also informed that they are going to launch a rally academy in a month or two in the national capital where he would be imparting driving skills to the youngsters.
When asked about his future plans, Gill said, "I am not planning to call it quit any time soon." (ANI)