Gaurav Gill believes that motorsports has the potential to become a mass sport in India. The 37-year-old rally car driver, who recently became the first from the field of motorsports to win an Arjuna award, said that India having one of the largest automobiles industries in the world is something that motorsports should harness.

“India is very quickly becoming the world’s third-largest automobile manufacturer. If it has the capacity to do that and if it can have millions of vehicles on the road, our sport is directly linked to that,” Gill told IANS.

Gill announced on Friday that he will be entering the World Rally Championship 2 this season representing JK Tyre Motorsport for the first time. His previous forays into the WRC2 came during his tenure with MRF that lasted over 12 years. He will be starting at Rally of Turkey that is scheduled for later this month.

Gill said that it took some time for the news of his Arjuna award win to sink in.

“I had just finished my training and was having my power nap in the afternoon,” he said about the day he got to know about it.

“Somebody called me up and said congratulations. And I said, for what? I didn’t do any rally recently and I didn’t win anything. Then the person told me that I was on the final list of Arjuna Awards. I got up and made a few other calls and it took me a few days to realise that this had happened. It was an amazing feeling.”

He said that a direct effect of this win is the encouragement it gives to parents to let their kids get into motorsports, citing the example of the number of calls he and JK Tyre Motorsport chief Sanjay “Hardy” Sharma received.

“I am flooded with calls and messages about my academy. People want to have me help their younger ones to pursue it. Hardy actually got more calls because people are sending their kids for karting. Now they can see that if they start something like this now, 10 years down the line they will reap the rewards,” he said.