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Narain Karthikeyan, Aishwarya Pissay and Jehan Daruvala also received top honours, as did 18-year-old upcoming racer Lal Nunsunga
Over 110 national champions, including 2019 Arjuna awardee Gaurav Gill (who took home the Special Award) were felicitated at the Federation of Motor Sports Club of India (FMSCI) awards, held at PHD House in New Delhi on 29th February 2020. Honorable Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, awarded and personally congratulated the winners.
The year 2019 was a remarkable year for Indian motorsport, with Gaurav Gill creating history by becoming the first motorsport athlete to be awarded the Arjuna Award, the highest civilian honour for sports in India. Similarly, 17-year-old Yash Aradhya is the first motorsport athlete to win the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakti Puraskar.
The FMSCI is the only federation in the Asia Pacific region that organises 10 national championships in almost all categories in both two- as well as four-wheelers (including karting), and as mentioned, the awards were a comprehensive list of all achievers across varied categories within the motorsport fraternity. A notable name here is talented budding racer Lal Nunsunga, who won the coveted Upcoming Motorsport Person of the Year award. Since he started racing in 2016, the 18-year-old from Aizawl, Mizoram has overcome many hurdles to becoming one of the worthiest prospects of Indian motorsports to look out for. This award comes after a highly successful year in 2019 for Lal which has included seven podium finishes at the national level.
The awards also witnessed a strong outing by female racers, signifying the rise of women in the sport. Motorcycle racer Aishwarya Pissay was awarded the ‘Outstanding Achievements in World Motorsports’. 2019 was a memorable year for the 24-year-old from Bengaluru as she became the first Indian to win a World title in motorsports post her victory in the FIM Bajas World Cup. Shriya Lohia, Muskan Jubbal and Aashi Hanspal were also recognised as ‘Outstanding Women in Motorsports’.
The first Indian F1 racer and Padma Shri recipient Narain Karthikyen added another feather to his cap, his win at the Japan Super GT earning him the ‘Outstanding Achievements in World Motorsports Award’ in the four-wheeler category.
Jehan Daruvala, multiple round winner of FIA Formula 3 Championship, was also recognised for his historic signing by Formula 1’s Red Bull Racing for their junior programme. The youngster will compete in his first FIA Formula 2 Grand Prix in Bahrain next month, as he follows in the footsteps of Formula 1 icons Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, both of whom are products of the Red Bull Junior programme. Arjun Maini, winner of the Shanghai round of the Asian Le Mans Series and Abhimanyu Gautam, FIM Asia Cup of Road Race podium winner, were also honoured for their outstanding performances at the international level.
In praise of the record-breaking achievements of the Indian racers, Honourable Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju said, “Every sport needs heroes to inspire the next generation of champions. I want to commend all the winners for scripting the stories that will motivate new talent in motorsport and continue to make the country proud like you all have. Seeing the achievements of Indian racers at the national and international level has made me believe that the dawn of Indian motorsports is finally here”.
Reflecting on the country’s golden year in motorsports, FMSCI President J Prithviraj said, “This afternoon reaffirmed that Indian motorsports is headed in the right direction. Not only are Indian racers able to hold their own at the international level, but the sport is also really taking off at the domestic level with more and more young racers breaking in. FMSCI is more motivated than ever to ensure that motorsports continues to develop at the grass roots level and raise the standards of Indian racing to match international levels.”