In a country where sporting success is often equivalent to cricketing success, driver Gaurav Gill stands out in a sport in which Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok are the only names synonymous to the population.
After becoming the first Indian driver to win the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) Indonesia Rally in 2008, Gill now finds himself bracketed among the world's top 30 rally drivers.
Gill, with 1,413 points to his credit, stands at No. 28 in the list of rankings released by the International Rally Drivers Association (IRDA) on September 1. This is the first time the IRDA has come out with rankings for rally drivers.
Speaking to HT, the 28-year-old said: "We don't come from a country where the sport is prominent. So I am excited."
The points system adopted by IRDA is based on the importance, difficulty and results of drivers and co-drivers from rallies included in FIA's (International Automobile Federation) international sporting calendar. Gill described this year as being "his best so far". Having finished second in the APRC's Malaysia Rally, he won the recent leg in Queensland (Australia).
In the regional standings for APRC drivers', Gill is second with 97 points, three points behind MRF teammate Katsu Taguchi (100 points). He believes he can breach that gap when the final leg rolls out in November in China.
"Whoever wins the Chinese rally wins the championship. My aim will be to finish ahead of Taguchi so I can clinch the title. No Indian driver has done it before," said Gill.
It is not clear how soon the rankings will be updated. "They could be updated every month or two. But definitely within 45-160 days," said the driver.