It isn't as if the lure is less when it is dry, but rain seems to add to the pull. At the entrance to the Whangarei Falls is a board that reads, "Every step is important". While each move gets you closer to the gushing water, another connotation could be, watch your step! Visiting the site during a wet spell does add a spring in the step, but the haste to look down the wooden railings can lead to damage, ranging from a sprained foot to a plunge several feet down.
Since 2009, when he first took part in the Rally Whangarei, Gaurav Gill would have made one or more trips to the site. Five years down, those lines at the entrance assume a deeper all-round meaning for the 31-year-old. Starting off at 16, the years on the circuit have seen him evolve. MRF's tie up with Skoda has the foot revving up the powerful Fabia S2000, but more importantly, Gill views the birth of his son as a landmark in his racing career.
It's been a year since Aryan arrived, but rather than instilling caution, the desire to go full throttle has got stronger. Glimpses of that tendency were on view as Gill took on the bends in steady rain on Friday, the eve of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship's season opener.
"I want to soar, so that he (Aryan) can look up to the achievements," said Gill. If that were to happen, the young boy would stand awed, but though new to the role, Gill is aware they should not overwhelm the lad to an extent he finds it difficult to wrap a hand around his dad's shoulder and discuss a point or two. "That should never happen," he said emphatically.
From racing to fatherhood, the conversation veered towards other sports, before settling on golf. "Ah, I've teed off-and-on but I intend to play more often this year," he said. Standing nearby, a team member frowned. The prospect of just competing hadn't gone down well. "You should have said win(ing) more often."
Taken aback, Gill still managed a smile. He is aware, mastery comes with time.
The writer's trip has been sponsored by MRF.