In top gear

Nine months ago, when Pune-based rally car driver, Rohan Pawar won a championship in his maiden rally in Kolkata, the wheels for launching his own rally team were set in motion. Along with three other drivers from the city, who had been into professional racing for almost four years, the quartet set about achieving their target of setting up their own rally team. The idea sounded 'exciting' but needed much more than how-to-do-list. The team had to begin from scratch. To begin with, the group pooled in their resources for the cars. Then the hunt began for the right car to use. They eventually zeroed in on the Volkswagen Polo.

Right from contacting the car company for the car, to the tyre manufacturers, and from assembling a dedicated pit crew to a state of the art testing centre in Coimbatore, the four worked towards their own team- Slideways Industries, which was officially unveiled on Saturday. The quartet set-up will be making their rally racing debut at the K-1000 rally in Bangalore over the next weekend.

While rally racing is a niche affair in India, what is interesting is that the team is only the second one in the country after MRF Racing. Breaking down the dynamics of the same, Sirish Chandran, a former sports journalist, says, "Most drivers enter the various rallies in the country individually on their own. They usually have to struggle to find motor companies to sponsor them, also get a dedicated pit crew and work the logistics out. This makes it a very expensive sports for anyone to work on individually. Our idea of teaming up was to give the city its own identity in the motorsports arena as well as to showcase other racing enthusiasts that there is a viable model that can be developed for promoting this sport in the country."

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