“Good sportsmanship goes beyond the game; it begins with respect” – words of wisdom which apply aptly to Amul Satoskar. The Goan racer from Headland Sada, Vasco, has surmounted every hurdle to win the Rally of the Himalayas-2022, earning him popularity as the champion of extreme Himalayan motorsport.
Gomantak Times learnt about the trials Satoskar has undergone to become a winner and his thoughts on Goa having the potential to be developed as a motorsport rally destination that could attract high-end tourists and adventure enthusiasts from all over the world.
You won the Rally of the Himalayas-2022 recently. Could you tell us about the challenges you faced in participating in this rally?
Yes, the event was very much challenging, just like its name. I had to compete in extreme weather conditions and the rough terrain of the Himalayas, at very high altitude where the oxygen level is low. This tests your patience and sportsmanship spirit. The initial challenge which I faced in preparation for this international-level event was with regard to finance. A great deal of money has to be invested in preparing for this event in terms of readying the car, other accessories, seeing to the documentation and other formalities, etc. I had approached the Sports Authority of Goa and even spoken to the Minister for Sports Govind Gaude. I was left with hollow promises and no encouragement whatsoever, which was extremely disheartening.
What motivated you to participate in extreme motorsport when the majority of Goans are into other conventional sports?
I have had a fascination for fast cars since I was young and have been participating in various adventure category motorsport events since the year 2000. After excelling in the adventure category in 2010, I took part in the Rally of the Himalayas. I am the recipient of four podiums in this Himalayan extreme motorsport rally.
Could you please share your preparation experience during the recent Himalayan extreme rally which you won?
After being invited to the Rally of the Himalayas 2022, I had to prepare documentation, hire a car, customize car accessories, transport the car to the event venue, etc. As it was an international event, it would have cost at least Rs. 10 lakh, but I managed with Rs. 8 lakh. I went to Shimla few days before the event just to acclimatise myself to the weather conditions. On the first day of the race, my car encountered an electric failure of two ECUs of the car, which led to the shutting down of our digital camera and rally competition GPS.
My navigator and I were totally dependent on the road book. This happened at the Rohtang stage, on day one, after covering just 18 km. I then decided to watch and drive for 51 km. There were a total of 23 participants, and I started the race last.
On the second and third day, we had to cross 11 water crossings, which were a lot tougher for many drivers as their cars became stuck while passing through the cold Himalayan water and encountering huge boulders on the path.
I was one of only two cars that made it to the finish line. The Polo car made it to the end 11 minutes after I had reached the finish line.
What was the people’s response to your victory at this event?
I received an overwhelming positive response from people on social media platforms. People encouraged and cheered my victory. But sadly in Goa there was not much hype about this achievement. It is worth mentioning that Mapusa MLA, Joshua D’Souza published a post about my victory in the Rally of the Himalayas-2022 and wished me.
Similarly, Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar encouraged me in a big way. Amonkar helped me by taking me to the SAG, requesting a sponsorship, etc. No other legislator, no Sports Minister nor Chief Minister made any attempt at felicitating me for this achievement, which was quite depressing.
Do you have any future plans regarding events in extreme motorsport?
In the month of November, I have been partly sponsored by the State Government of Nagaland for my participation in a motorsport rally event to be held in that state, which covers my stay and the transport of my car. Then there are the K-1000 Rally and Dakshin Dare Rally in South India. I am waiting for the State Government of Goa to support me in participating in these events, considering their heavy budget.
Do you feel Goa could be a venue for extreme motorsport rally events?
Yes, of course, Goa could be the best place to organise such motorsport events as there were extreme rally sports happening in Goa till 2006. There are off-road car rally events taking place in Goa. If extreme motorsport starts in Goa, high-end tourists and adventure enthusiasts will definitely be drawn to the state.