Looking for a rally car? Interview with Kenyan rally driver Gurmit Thethy

Posted: May 18, 2010 in Uncategorized


By Nafthali Thaithi

Simple, single and humble is a 39 year old Gurmit Thethy who is a Rally Driver in Kenya. The most surprising, challenging and encouraging thing about him is his enthusiasm. He has participated and still does motor sports in a standard car. He has proven beyond doubts that nothing is impossible until proven so by converting a normal car into a Rally car. Meet this well known character as we take him through an interview

1. When did you join motor sports and how long have you been participating?

I have been in motor Sports for three and a half years; I joined in the year 2006.

2. Do you have a sponsor?

I have no sponsor; actually I use my own savings. I am looking forward to one. Believe me when I say Rallying is expensive when you are funding it alone with no sponsor in the picture. Talk of fuel, a rally car uses aviation fuel (jet fuel) which is lighter and burns so fast compared to the normal fuel. Do you know that we buy a liter at 200/=, in short a drum is likely to cost you 40,000/=. Replacing a tire costs you between 20,000/= to 15,000/=.

3. Do you belong to any group and if so who are they and what roles do they play?

Yes. My group is called Thethy Motorsports which includes a total of six team members. My father Harcharan Singh Thethy who is the Team Manager, he directs and manages the team in terms of what need to be done, Uncle Amarjit Singh Thethy who is a Technical and Mechanical Manager. He helps when it comes to servicing of the car. My brother Inderjit Singh Thethy who was my former navigator and currently is the service manager who takes care of the services needed when rallying is taking place. My Current Navigator is Depinder Kalsi, he is my co-driver in the races. Finally my Service Crew members include; Malonza, Naftali and Mwendwa who are mechanics, I have them with me all the time whenever we are rallying, testing or just practicing.

4. What made you choose motor sports?

I have been a fan of motor sports ever since. Am actually fascinated with cars.

5. Is it a hobby, passion or your career choice?

Rallying is both a hobby and a passion.

6. Is there any point in time you had second thoughts on the sports?

No. I have never had any. I am hoping for a sponsor, may be when none comes along, then that’s when I would have second thoughts about rallying.

7. How often do you participate?

A normal calendar has eight rounds but I participate at least in four rounds every year given that I am my own sponsor. Mostly I avoid those sports that are not Nairobi based because of the expenses one has to meet. This includes having to travel with all
the team members, for instance if the rallying is taking place at the coastal province. The traveling expenses, accommodation not mentioning the expenses that await you during the real rallying event that is quite an expense.

8. What has been your happiest moment so far?

My happiest moment was when I managed to achieve the fifth position in 2008 in a standard car (normal) which we had actually converted from a road version to a rally car. What made me happy is the fact that with all the power and control a real rally car
has, leave alone its high technical standards, we still finished in 5th position with about 3 other fully work cars finishing behind us. Take in mind that a normal car runs normally, taking much time and effort for one to control. Its quite hectic and handling
it is slightly poor because it’s less powerfull.

9. What inspires you in life?

What inspires me most is positivity and simplicity. Interestingly am strongly inspired by the negative people around me, the ones who would do everything within their powers to discourage me. I love challenges because I enjoy it when I prove them otherwise hence making then know everything is doable until proven otherwise.

10. Any role model and what you admire about him or her?

My role model is my Mum, Harjeet Kaur Thethy. What I admire in her is her focus in life, the hard work she put to bring us up, advices and encouragements she has always offered and still does. The fact that she is also driven by challenges, she never forgets
that simplicity is the essence of happiness.

11. Any victories so far?

Our third position in 2008 despite lots of problems and challenges we succumbed to along the way and still got that position out of nine finishers.

12. How does an individual benefit from motorsport?

There are no benefits in motorsports unless when employed like our counterparts from well known companies abroad. Passion is all one hangs on to and one’s dying love for the game. Apart from the trophy one gets on finishing the race, nothing’s achieved. When one is sponsored, the company gets good publicity, advertisement or exposure and nothing much.

13. Can motor sports Kenya sponsor an individual if need be?

No. Kenya motorsports is just an umbrella body like Kenya football federation. They only organize and administer the rallying events and all participants’ report to them. They don’t fund any individual.

14. Any job besides rallying?

Yes, I am employed by a well known manufacturing company dealing with FMCG products (Fast moving Consumer goods).I head the sales and marketing department.

15. Challenges if any?

The biggest challenge was converting a standard car into a competition car at home, all the safety aspects involved and much more replacements that had to be done. It was not easy but we did it and we were happy at the end of it all. Part time we offer motoring advices involving vehicles, rallying as a sport and even advice upcoming motor sports champs besides sourcing of spares and more information on motor sports Kenya. Check out [b] THETHY MOTORSPORT [/b] on facebook

16. Any difficulties experienced when participating?

Main difficulty ever experience is that of having to put up with a standard engine which lacks power compared to the competitors’

17. Do you have any regrets what so ever in the choice you made?

No regrets at all.

18. What is the worst experience you’ve ever had relating to the sports?

My worst experience ever took place last year which exposed us through lots of risk when we lost our brakes and had to cover 70 km in order to reach the service park putting in mind the tough competition we were facing. We had to cover 23 Km depending on water in the brake system. Despite all that occured we finished in 7th position. Death is the last thing that crosses our minds whenever we compete because all our fears and worries are camouflaged in our passion for the game.

19. Any other interests besides rallying?

Besides rallying, I am a big football and cricket fun. I also like music and love socializing as well. This life is too short. Make the most out of it. Avoid whatever makes you sad. Smile or better still laugh all the time cause it makes you younger each day.I strongly belive if you can put a smile on someone’s face, then you have made justice to a day well spent.

20. Who is following in your footsteps (any family member)?

Funnily enough, it’s my young nephew who is only one and a half years old. Gurveer Thethy to be precise. The steering of the car is his best place any time he wakes from sleep and of course his daily imitations of the sound of my rally car.

21. What lessons have you learnt about the game?

The game is interesting, needs lots of hard work, determination, focus and concentration.

22. Who would you wish to thank in all these?

First of all lots of thanks to God Almighty for his wonderful guidance all through, then to my family, team members, growing funs not forgetting our well wishers.

23. What’s your favorite car model?

VW S2000Polo. It’s my dream machine. Its make, performance and everything about it fascinates me.

24. Any dreams and ambitions?

My dream is to be a champion some day and my ambition is to reach out to guide and assist the upcoming rally champs.

25. Are you retiring any time soon or it’s a life time career?

When a sponsor comes along, I have no reasons to back off.

26. Most admired Rally champion internationally?

Mikko Hirvonen.

27. Any words of encouragements to the upcoming rally champs and your fans out there?

To the upcoming rally champs; have fun, enjoy the sport, and encourage others. To my fans out there; I love you all, hope to continue getting support from you and bring more fans to keep us going.

Observations

Motor sport Kenya has grown lots of interest lately and we should keep that spirit burning. The organizers should encourage more people aboard by doing what is right all the time. The government’s plan to restore World Rallying Championship again is a good idea but I think it would take quite some time.

Gender

Lots of women are showing interest in the game and they should be given more support and encouragement. I am more than willing to give a helping hand and share my knowledge of the sport. The sport is tough, no doubts about that, but when everything is well executed, things are smooth, believe me.


Advice

Our country can really grow if something was to be done and fast. Sports makes a country earn lots of revenue; take for example the days when WRC was still in Kenya. Tourism sector, accommodations,
culture not mentioning taxes, will boost this countries development if all was to be well planned. Take a good look at South Africa; they have a company which majors in motor sports, many companies in that country advertise and gain publicity through rallying. Let’s not even mention the countries abroad employing rally drivers and paying them. For once, let’s have some change around and have something to be proud of.

If I were the Sports Minister, I would put lots of effort by paying close attention to different heads involved in various sports activities, pinpoint the weak existing areas and iron them out. I would give full support to the private sectors in the country that are willing to bring developments in sports. Our country would be in a better position to assist the neighboring countries with revenues collected in sports alone. Believe me, this country has got lots of enthusiasts but they don’B

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Comments
  1. paulngugi says:

    hi am called Paul am in secondary and i would like to be a rally driver next year after am done with school please tell me what the qualifications needed to be a rally driver please send the details to my email.Thank you.

  2. Hi Paul thankyou for passing by you can add Gurmit Thethy
    on facebook as a friend and ask him bout that he is well versed
    you dint give me your email adress

  3. antony chege says:

    hi my name is tony a university student and im jst hopping its not late bt im also interested in doing some rally with you guys. can you please tell me as well the qualliications to be a rally driver,,

  4. Timothy Kamau says:

    How can i join rally Training? Please email me on marleygiks@gmail.com

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