MUMBAI: As the sea got choppier and the engine creaked out of its bracket, Gaurav Gill was reminded just how far out he was from dry land. The rally driver had instantly taken to water, giving an impressive performance during qualifying and on Day 1 of the P1 Powerboat Indian Grand Prix of the Seas. He was going full throttle in the final race on Sunday, and had got himself into third position, when an engine bracket came off and the driver could see it bouncing with the waves. “It was quite scary,” said Gill, after managing to finish his debut weekend in fifth position in his Kingfisher Ultra Sharks boat here on Sunday. “It broke down in the 10th lap, which was the halfway mark.
I could see the engine taking a beating off the waves. So at that point, we just decided to cruise and finish the race,” added the 33-year-old. While car rallying remains his first passion, and Gill is hoping to take it a notch higher this season by entering some rallies on the European circuit, the Delhi-based driver is intrigued by this new wave of action. “I definitely underestimated the sport,” he noted. “Physically, it can get really demanding out there. I must’ve steered that wheel constantly some 10,000 times this weekend. Also, because there are no seat belts, you have to sit in the brace position, while bouncing up and down and trying to steer the boat. There’s a lot of pressure on the back. But it’s something I would really like to take forward, and at least compete in the event next year.”
The only other Indian in the field, CS Santosh, got to the top step of the podium in his very first race. Santosh, through his Dakar experience, knows that patience is a virtue, and didn’t go gung-ho on the throttle. He didn’t need to, with his Baleno RS Booster Jets teammates Sam and Daisy Coleman continued their dominant run, claiming a hat-trick by winning the third and final race to take the top prize. Unlike in Formula One, where driver and constructor tallies are separate, the performances of both boats on a team are seen and a combined winner is declared. Santosh, in boat No 100, only had to finish his race to make sure his team triumphed by two points. email@example.com