Akhil claimed the pole position for FOX Factory 120 with a timing of 106.679mph in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in Atlanta.
Akhil Rabindra became the only Asian driver to be selected to join the Aston Martin Raching Young Driver Racing Academy earlier this year. The 22-year old was amongst 23 elite young drivers picked from across the world and will undergo a year of training and assessment from the Aston Martin Racing team in United Kingdom with the best performer of the year landing a reserve driver role in 2020 with the factory Aston Martin Racing team.
A week ago, he claimed the pole position for FOX Factory 120 with a timing of 106.679mph in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in Atlanta. It is his first career IMSA pole and a new track record. The 23 year old racer, got the first podium for the new Aston Martin in Mugello in Italy at the start of the year and the first pole for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the US at the end of the season.
In a tete-e-tete with this paper the 23-year-old shared his experience with Aston Martin racing academy, his aim for the year and the future of motosports in the country among others. Excerpts:
At such an early age, you grabbed a spot in the Aston Martin racing academy. What do you feel about it?
It has been a really fun and great year for me. I was really excited and happy to be a part of this academy. One being associated to be such an iconic brand really brings a smile on my face, and I am really proud to represent the brand. They have definitely taught me a lot, on and off the track. I have become a much better racing driver from what I was from beginning of the year to where I am now and I look forward to continue my relationship with them.
In India, motorsports racing has become popular among people and many Indian racers have stepped up. How do you think India can grow and produce more racers like you in the future?
I think the first step in any sports is making sure you get the fundamentals really strong. Today we are very fortunate as we have multiple go-kart racing championships across India spread across various categories and ages. It has definitely grown from the past year, where it is teaching young budding racers to learn the basic skills of it. The stepping-stone to that is formula racing, which is growing very well in India. Now there is good pathway of coming into rental go-kart, professional go-kart, junior formula events and once you can prove yourself in all these stages, it opens up opportunities internationally. You have to dedicate your time and energy but unfortunately this is a financially driven sport, so being able to chase sponsors and get sponsorship is a big key here.
You are working with a German team now. What has changed since then, and how did that help you with your racing?
I think you know winning a lot of races and championships definitely help you learn a lot but also the lessons on when you don’t do well, when mistakes are made by yourself and the team and everyone, that is where the most learning comes from. I think over the years I have been happy that had of a share of positive and negative and that has really helped me and taught me from my mistakes and also my wins. So I think without these mistakes and wins I wouldn’t be where I am today and you have to just keep adding these this experiences to your book and then whenever a situation arises, you can always have an answer on how to tackle it.
After the GT4 European series, what is your next plan?
My next plan is to do GT3 for next year. We are evaluating options for next year to either race in the UK, Europe or the US. We might most probably be doing GT3, but we are looking at options at GT4 also. So we are just in the phase of talking to the teams and evaluating championships and we should know by early next year what we are doing and where we will be racing.
What do you suggest an aspiring racer? How does an aspiring Indian racer become professional?
In today’s day and age it’s really important to make sure that you are a complete package. What I mean by that is you can’t just be a fast racing drive because there are so many of these people who exist. You need to be an appreciating asset to a team, to manufacturer, to a championship and to the sponsors. You need to be able to present yourself and add value to anyone you are representing because if you are just bringing fast driving to the table, that won’t cut in today’s world. You have to be extremely talented on the track and off the track to progress in this field and make it to the top.