BENGALURU: In motorsports racing, participation in Formula 1 is considered the pinnacle of performance. Starting with go-karting, all the aspiring racers go step by step — from a taste of Formula cars at national racing championships to Formula 4, 3, 2 and eventually the F1. Bengaluru-born Akhil Rabindra was no different, and nurtured this dream.
The 23-year-old drove in the British Formula 3 and 4, and wanted to pursue a career in F1 as the two Indians — Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok – had done in the past. But since shifting to GT cars two years ago, Rabindra is walking a different path now. Unlike many others, he now wants to achieve his goals in a GT (grand touring) car.
Rabindra, who started racing when he was eight, has had a good start to his new journey this season. He became the only Asian to seal an Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy spot earlier this year, and is driving an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for PROsport Performance in the European GT4 series. That Rabindra has managed podium finishes in the sprint as well as endurance categories lends proof of his talent. He finished second in the 24H GT European Series in Italy and second in the GT4 European Series in the Race 1 of Brands Hatch, UK. He has also managed a podium finish (third) in the GT4 class of 24H GT Series European held at Brno circuit in the Czech Republic.
“I did have the dream of pursuing and reaching Formula 1. But we made a very conscious decision to shift from Formula to GT cars. It was for multiple reasons. One, it was very difficult to get into F1 as there are only 20 drivers in the world, and only a few of them change every year. Also, you need big financial resources to reach F1. These reasons made us take the decision in favour of GT Racing,” said Rabindra.
In GT racing, the youngster has multiple options to choose from, and a failure with one team doesn’t mean the end of the road. “GT racing is held all across the world. In the US alone, there are 10-15 manufacturers and it’s easier to make it to the top – the factory driver. The number of factory drivers is a lot more, and financially, it is a bit more viable,” Rabindra added.
In his second year of GT racing, Rabindra now aims to improve and become a factory driver of Aston Martin Racing. Eventually, he wants to step up and drive in the GT3 series. “I am enjoying GT racing now and the aim is to drive in the GT3. But the first step towards my goal is to secure the junior contract by the end of this year. Then the goal will be to become AMR junior factory driver,” said Rabindra, who is now placed sixth in the Drivers’ Championships standing. “I am happy with my teammate (Florian Thoma), and that together we achieved podium finishes.”