BENGALURU: When Bengaluru racer Sohil Shah returned to the track after close to 11 months, it was nothing short of a homecoming for him. The feeling was made sweeter when the 20-year-old won the 50-lap battle in the KM50 Grand Prix LGV category, which happened in Coimbatore on Feb. 7. Or as the youngster says, “It was a double celebration for me.”
The race was special for more reasons than one. It also marked the first time Shah tried a 50-lap race. “Usually in India, we have 15-18 laps but this was the first time we had 50 laps. The usual time we drive for is 20-30 minutes but here it went on for over an hour, which was grilling,” he says, light-heartedly adding that after the race, the first thing he did was to have lots of water before celebrating. Also adding heat, literally, was the weather at Coimbatore. “While the outside temperature was 30-35 degrees Celsius, the fire proof suits and helmet we wore made it feel like it was 50 degree Celsius,” he says.
Lack of practice due to the pandemic did prove to be a setback for Shah, who did not get to prepare a lot before his race. “I did have four practice sessions two days ahead of the race, which lasted for 2-3 hours. Initially it did feel out of place but soon, I got used to it and it felt just like before,” says Shah, who started racing professionally in 2018, when he was 17.
But his love for speed emerged when he was nine. “I used to go to for go-karting, which soon became a hobby,” says Shah, who has won championships like MRF 1300 and LGB-F4 Rookie. Although his parents were happy about Shah’s new fondness for speed, they were sceptical about it being his choice of career.
“They were particular about me concentrating on studies too. Now they are supportive of my career,” says Shah, whose favourites are Lewis Hamilton, Jehan Daruvala and Narain Karthikeyan. “More than idolising them, I like to learn from how they dealt with a particular situation,” says Shah, who is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Visual Arts. Satisfied with his win and happy to be back in Namma Ooru, Shah is now looking forward to the Asian championships, which will depend on when borders reopen.