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Nadir Magsi ... great control and skill on wheels.
Nadir Magsi ... great control and skill on wheels.

KARACHI: Pakistan’s top race driver Nadir Magsi believes that the country has abundance of talent for motor sport and with proper support from the corporate sector it can produce world-class race drivers.

“Yes. I believe that we have a lot of talent for motor sports all across Pakistan. It just needs to be discovered and groomed and for that we need solid support, guidance and sponsorship from top companies in the private sector,” Nadir told Dawn in an exclusive interview here on Thursday.

Some of the country’s leading drivers and veterans including Ashraf Khan, Sarfraz Dhanji, Nusrat Ali, women’s champion Tushna Patel and fast rising drivers Nauman Saranjam Khan and young Jaffar Magsi were also present on the occasion and gave their viewpoint during the discussion.

Nadir, who has won more than two dozen major rally titles including the Gwadar Rally, Cholistan Rally, Jhal Magsi and Hub Rally described racing as an exciting but expensive sport.

“If world standard vehicles are provided to talented drivers in Pakistan and they have sound support from the sponsors, motor sports can make great strides in Pakistan,” commented Nadir who is often referred to as the Michael Schumacher of Pakistan.

The dashing race driver said many people in Pakistan were not even aware of the adventurous sport and more racing events of international standard should be held here to popularise the sport.

However, he added that the recent Cholistan Rally attracted foreign drivers from United Arab Emirates, Iran, Turkey and other places and was attended by half a million racing fans from across the country.

When asked how he took to racing and excelled in it, Nadir said: “This motor sport is in our blood and we learnt it from our elders as teenagers.” He disclosed that three of his brothers Aamir Magsi, Khalid Magsi and Zafar Magsi are also very good at motor-racing.

“Now our third generation is at the threshold to take over from us,” the 58-year-old former Sindh minister said.

Lauding the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation for its promotional campaign for motor sport, Nadir informed that four big events such as Gawdar Rally, Hub Rally, Cholistan Rally and Jhal Magsi will be held between December 2017 and January 2018.

“All these rallies are exciting and very competitive since the drivers have to cover a distance of around 250-500 kilmetres in two days,” he said.

“For the beginners, Go-Karting is good to learn the ropes. They can then graduate to compete in nine categories of Prepared and Stock races and this would allows the participants to qualify for top races,” explained Nadir. “There is also a women’s event in all these racing contests.”

He hailed the recent launching of Max Dirt Arena near Hub and said it is a great facility and will be very beneficial since it is close to both Karachi and Balochistan.

Nadir also appreciated the services of Tausif Agha — who is now involved in Formula1 Racing in Bahrain — for launching auto crossing in Pakistan on the track near Gharo.

The country’s number one woman driver Tushna Patel recalled how difficult it was in the start to participate in the deserted locations like Cholistan and Jhal Magsi where hardly any facilities were available for men, what to speak of women.

“But my husband Ronnie Patel, who is a fantastic driver, has been very supportive and with passage of time things have got better,” said Tushna. “But still a big effort is required to attract women to this sport.”

Rehan Qureshi, who is member rules and regulations committee and race director for several events, said that a proper platform in shape Motorsports Federation of Pakistan is the need of the hour.

“Hopefully, it will be launched by the year end to regulate this sport,” he said.

“Paperwork is in progress while constitution is being prepared along with formulation of rules and regulations and strict safety measures being our top priority,” he revealed, adding that a committee has been formed for the purpose.—Agencies

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2017