Gaurav Gill dreamt of winning a special prize to establish himself among the top Indian drivers in motorsport history.
The dream came true last week at the Gudang Garam International Rally in Indonesia, where he became India's first rally driver to win an Asia Pacific Rally Championship round.
Despite technical glitches in Makassar's jungle terrain, Gill and co-driver Jagdev Singh, of Malaysia, secured a slender lead of 17 seconds at the end of the first day of the two-day event.
"I was not expecting a good run as the conditions were tough. But after securing the lead, I was confident of a win," Gill told HT on Wednesday.
"Our commitment paid rich dividends and Jagdev gave me good support," he added. Driving his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, the ace Indian clocked 3:3:23.9 seconds to score a win over defending APRC champions Katsuhiko Taguchi and Mark Stacey. The Australian duo clocked 3:4:30.8.
The win fetched lucrative offers for Gill from the Indian group, Sidwin, for two WRC drives in Japan (October) and England (November).
"I am excited by the offers and am looking forward to a better showing in future," he said, adding, "Indian drivers and tyres are good enough to excel in the WRC drives. If I can fare well in Indonesia in tough conditions, I can do so anywhere now."
The 26-year-old driver from Delhi, who was roped in by MRF last season, said he was happy to graduate to international rallying from being a two-wheeler competitor.
"I am expecting a good season and some test drives to gear up for the next phase of the APRC at Malaysia (October 10-12). In this direction, I am hoping to do well in the Indian Rally Championship at Cochin next month."
Gill made a great debut as a professional driver at the 1999 National Motocross in Chandigarh by coming first. Thereafter, he remained a member of Team JK Tyres till 2006 before joining MRF last year.
"I feel my best is yet to come. But, I now find that things are moving my way and I have to make the most of it."
"This is a historic victory not only for Gaurav but also for MRF which contributed to this significant victory," said company official, Antony Rodricks, while reacting to Gill's victory.