When Narain Karthikeyan became the first Indian to secure a Formula One ride, the news evoked passionate celebrations from a section and nods of joyous approval from the masses.
When fellow Coimbatore native Sureshbabu Janarthanan becomes the first Indian to compete in an International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) cross-country world championship rally, it won’t generate anywhere as much buzz as Karthikeyan’s entrance into F1. The task that awaits him, however, will be very much as challenging as the one Karthikeyan faced.
The 37-year-old will pilot his Suzuki RMX 450Z off-road bike in the Qatar Sealine cross-country rally, the second round of this year’s championship, next week. The world championship is the most prestigious event in the calendar after the most popular of all cross-country rallies - the Dakar rally.
Having competed in three Raid de Himalayas, Janarthanan was looking to take his motorsport participation to the next level when friend and Dubai-based ace bike tuner Aldrin Samuel, who’s prepared and tuned bikes for many world cross-country rally riders, entered his name for the second round of this season’s championship in Qatar.
“My friend Aldrin entered my name, and only told me about it after my name was approved. I talked with my sponsors and decided to give it a shot,” he told HT over phone from Dubai, where he is currently training for the April 15-21 event.
With his dream of competing in the world championship coming to fruition, he has now set his sights on the ultimate off-road challenge — the Dakar Rally. Even though critics feel it isn’t nearly as challenging since its move from the African deserts to South America, Janarthanan says, “I want to compete in the Dakar Rally, from the time I first did the raid, that’s the goal I’ve set for myself.”