After Narain Karthikeyan, Parthiv Sureshwaran was considered the next best pair of hands behind the wheels on the racetrack. Tough times came and Parthiv was out in the wilderness for over two-and-a-half years.
Any other race driver would have simply given up. But not Parthiv, who came out with flying colours at the Sepang track in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, where he finished second in the Formula V6 championship.
“It was a tough period, I just could not raise money for racing with any team in any event. And had it not been for the support and encouragement from my parents, my career would have been long over,” Parthiv told HT from Chennai.
In a sport like racing, where Narain has said it makes sense to be competing in some event or the other to “keep the juices flowing”, Parthiv was almost finished. His parents’ business suffered in Chennai and they shifted to Dubai. “We went around asking for funds in Dubai but nothing happened for two years,” says Parthiv, out in the cold from 2002 till 2005. “I did get to test the Renault World Series car in 2005 but when I was asked to raise Euro 5,00,000, my heart sank,” recalls Parthiv.
The change in luck came towards the end of 2006 when he got a test drive for the A1 GP in Sentul, Indonesia. Getting into the driver’s seat after years was a strange feeling. “Once in, I had not forgotten anything,” he says. But when it came to the A1 GP races after that, Narain got the job, though Parthiv did represent India at Sydney.
“When I signed up for the V6, everything happened at the last minute. I got the budget ($3,00,000) last Wednesday to be with Team Eurasia. Still, there were hurdles, as I had no race engineer for the weekend. Piers Hunniset (Narain’s former manager) and I set up the car. So, to make a podium finish without the pre-season testing miles is creditable,” says Parthiv.
At a time when corporate support at home for motorsport comes from just a few companies, Parthiv has got help from Travelmarket in Dubai. This is the first time two Indians are competing in the V6 at the same time in Asia. Though Armaan Ebrahim got pole position, he could not finish in an incident-filled race on Sunday. But his rivalry with Parthiv will be keenly watched. “I am looking at consolidating my position in the championship. I guess the tough times are behind me.”