Gill aiming to clear misconceptions on rallying
Two-time Asia-Pacific rally champion Gaurav Gill has kept the Indian flag flying high in the rallying world.
Having driven at some of the highest levels, he has obviously amassed a lot of knowledge. Through his rally school, Gill aims to teach drivers the finer concepts of driving.
Motorsport.com spoke to him about the need for a rally school and what he has observed about some of today’s drivers.
What is the idea behind running a rally school?
I want to bring my success back to India and that is why I drive in the Indian championship also.
The aim is to get as many people possible into the sport. I want to motivate more people into rallying because it is the real driving. Going into the stages, you can have rain, mud, sand, dry surfaces and it can vary with every turn. You need a lot more talent to drive rally cars. If I have learnt from other people around the world, I should give it back to drivers here and develop good drivers for the future. I want rallying to grow and get more popular.
Rallying is unpredictable and conditions can change very quickly. So, what do you teach them?
It is even better. It is like getting hands on with the real situation. When we were training last weekend, it began to rain and the car began to slide around. So, I told my student about how he needs to change his driving. If it was racing, it would have been stopped. In rallying, you just go on. I make them understand how grip levels change, how the tyres, suspension and differential work. Like that, there are so many things I tell them.
In rallying, it is all about driver effort and driver input rather than setting the tyre pressure right or getting the clicks right in the dampers for a racetrack. Rallying is more driver oriented.
It is all about getting a feel to drive. I make them understand how they get that feel to drive. The feel starts from the tyres. I teach them how the tyres, suspension, differential and how the mechanical grip works. Apart from that, I teach them how the braking works. These are the key factors of rallying. It is all about where to brake in the corner and how to set up the car. If it is gravel or mud, you will think the car will stop but it may not.
How much did you and the other Indian drivers miss getting formal training?
We had no real person to go to train, learn or drive with. I would just sit in the car with my seniors for one stage and then that was about it. There was no concept of teaching somebody back then. It is important to teach someone because it is going to cut down the number of years he will take to learn.
I am training with people who know how to drive at a certain level but they are unsure of how to use that to the best of their potential. They have the capability to go fast but they don’t know how to do it. I teach them how to do that.
What do you do during the weekend?
I start with people who know how to drive. I sit with them in the co-driver’s seat through the day. Then, I take them around and show them what they have been doing wrong. I tell them what they did wrong or if they used excessive left foot braking, which is the biggest problem in rallying that I have seen. Everybody wants to do it but they do not understand it fully. It is all about weight transfer but they slow themselves far too much. Most drivers do not actually need it.
So, the left foot braking is something I am trying to push out of the window and out of the comfort zone. I am trying to get back the regular right foot braking. That is where I start with these guys. They are not driving to ten-tenths or driving an R5 that needs constant left foot braking. It actually slows you down. The cars in the INRC are producing about 120 bhp and you don’t need to keep doing that. This is an example of what I am teaching them to get rid of.
Is it about removing misconceptions?
Yes, absolutely. There are so many. Also, because people are not confident about getting into a turn and trying to turn the car more than required. That is very common. People think that due to the gravel surface, the car will not turn and they have to give far more input than required.
I teach them that there is a way the tyres, sidewall and suspension work and that gets transferred to the steering wheel. A driver needs to feel that. They need to understand that there is a certain amount of grip already available. But how to use it is a problem.
Do they understand the techniques?
During training, I try to replicate the way they drive and not how I drive. They need to understand how to simplify the process and that is what I attempt to tell them. My students try to overdrive the limit of the car. So, I actually slow them down a bit. Drivers try to overdrive the grip from the tyres and suspension. They should understand how to get the best of what is available.
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