The picturesque mountain town of Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh is abuzz with excitement as four local rallyists are eagerly waiting to launch their attack on the much-anticipated FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship that gets under way here on December 16.
Phurpa Tsering, Pem Sonam, Asha Nabam and Hage Chada Naku are ecstatic that the prestigious event is beginning in their part of the world this year and believe that it gives them the opportunity to make an impact. Each of them is even more elated as they will be turning out in the bright yellow colours of JK Tyre.
Honourable Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu was delighted by the presence of so many local participants in the the Championship. “We are proud to host an event as big as the INRC. I hope that everybody has a wonderful stay and a thrilling season. I hope that the event becomes a grand success,” he said upon meeting Arjuna Awardee Gaurav Gill and the local participants.
Arjuna Awardee & three-time APRC champion Gaurav Gill expressed his excitement about resuming the sport after a long hiatus. “It is a great feeling to be back behind the wheel for a competition after a break due to the COVID pandemic and our team is ready to assert our supremacy once again. I would like to express my gratitude to the Arunachal Pradesh Govt. for their endless support” Gill said.
“I have been very fortunate this year as I have been signed up by JK Tyre, one of the biggest names in Indian motorsports. Their support and backing means a lot to me and I feel truly motivated,” said Phurpa Tsering about his chances.
Phurpa pointed out that it was the first time in his seven-year long rallying career that he was being sponsored by a big company and that he wouldn’t have to worry about raising the money to take part in a national championship. “I am really excited as I will have ace drivers like Gaurav Gill alongside me, guiding us and giving us valuable tips,” the 31-year-old said.
Phurpa’s citymate Pem Sonam who also hopes to sparkle in the INRC 3 category, concedes that it will be thrilling to have the entire state rooting for the locals. Speaking of his familiarity with the rough terrains and the support that they are likely to get, Sonam says, “I know that the all the fans here will be cheering for us and we hope to inspire others to take up this sport. Yes, I know the terrain well but that doesn’t mean much when one is against the country’s best.”
Another driver from Itanagar Asha Nabam, who is supported by JK Tyre, will become the first female driver from the North-East to compete in this Championship. “I am proud that I will be the first lady driver from the state and I hope this inspires other women to follow us. We have a special bond with speed and adventure and I know that if we do well, many more will follow us.”
Speaking of her initiation into the sport, Asha Nabam, says, “I have been taking part in various motorsports events here. I did very well in the JK Tyre off-roading challenge that is held in Dambuk annually and that triggered my passion for the sport.”
“I am lucky to be familiar with this terrain and am confident that it will hold me in good stead in the two rounds here.”
Arunachal Pradesh is one of the states in the North-East that has been very active in motorsports. The sport has become very popular due to the number of events that are organised every year here, with JK Tyre at the forefront of it.
Hage Chada Naku is another talented local participant who is looking forward to the first two rounds of the INRC. “After a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am relieved to be able to get back behind the wheel. We have a very strong field for the first two rounds and I am delighted that I will be competing against the very best,” he said.