Tanveer, you have come from the grassroot motorsport like autocross and motocross, and now you are all set for your first international event. Do you feel you prepared?
I was thrilled to win the Dakar challenge for TVS Racing which helped me qualify for Merzouga rally and yes I am confident that I will perform to the best of my ability and take back a lot of learning. It will be my first international rally raid and I have prepared to push myself harder for the challenge.
My focus and attempt will be on finishing the rally and in the process, I will experience terrain and competition that many riders can only dream of. I am undergoing an intense training and diet programme, apart from clocking in more time with my bike. I am happy that this has helped our team to get more representation from India in international rally raids.
How have you prepared for Merzouga rally specifically?
Before my participation in India Baja, I had trained extensively in Spain on navigation, riding in extreme conditions and getting road book training. For the past month I have been practicing on my RTR 450. I believe that the experience of riding through the deserts of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer will help through the massive dunes in Africa.
My experienced teammate Aravind KP is also helping me in my preparations and I am also looking to meet the other teammates Juan Pedrero and Adrien Metge and take on the Merzouga challenge together.
Aravind, you seem to have recovered completely, as you did pretty well in the India Baja. How has the preparation been for you?
Since the time that I have recovered from the injury, the prep has been on. I have been doing a lot of races and Indi Baja was for myself, to train for the actual competition, as I think it gave me an idea of what I need to work on, what is not up to the mark. So the work is on, and as you know, the preparation is never over till the time of the competition. Physically, I feel much stronger than before as well.
I think this race is a navigational challenge – even compared to the Dakar, it is one of the most difficult rallies to navigate.
What is the difference in the spec of the bike you rode in the India Baja and the bike you will use in Merzouga?
Yes, it’s a completely different bike. The Indi Baja bike was a modified RTR 450, but the bike we’ll ride in Merzouga will be a proper Dakar-spec bike.
What are your expectations from the rally, in terms of results?
My target is going to be bettering my performance from Morocco last year [Aravind finished 25th in 2016 Rally Morocco].
You have a new Indian team-mate in Tanveer – how do you guys get along, and how will you be helping him get up to speed?
Tanveer and I have had a long relationship as we have been racing for TVS for quite some time, and have also raced each other quite a lot. It’s definitely good to have another Indian rider as there aren’t many Indians at the top level. This is going to be a good experience for both of us, and we are going to be working towards a common goal together and there is a lot of knowledge exchange as well. I’m sure it’s going to be a good run for him.