How can motorsports gain more popularity in Bangladesh?
It’s very simple. Nowadays, in many homes there are PS4 or PS5 consoles. You could also attach a simulator like the Logitech steering wheel with desktop or laptops. By using this steering wheel, which would cost Tk 28,000 at most, or a console and a decent internet connection, anyone can take part in motorsport tournaments online. Very often, there are sponsorship agreements in these racing events that the sponsoring company would make all the arrangements to take the champion to an actual motorsport tournament.
I keep saying this again and again, but no one really pays any attention. Those who are good in simulation can easily enter motorsports. I also once took part in one such virtual tournament in India. Although I couldn’t win that race as my arm was broken, I finished in the top 30. If I could do it, anyone can do it if they want.
What other can be done in the car sector in Bangladesh?
At the behest of our honourable finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, the duty on hybrid cars will be reduced in the next budget. Both normal and luxury hybrid cars will fall under this reduction. The price of electric cars will also come down in the future, the government will help in the registration of such cars. Furthermore, steps are being taken to construct electronic charging points across the country. Actually, everybody is now realising that hybrid and electric cars are the future. In this regard, we are ahead of our neighbouring countries India and Pakistan. We are close to starting local production of electric cars in Bangladesh, a lot of companies have put their hands up saying they will make electric cars.
What other cars do you enjoy on the race track?
Another fun to drive car on the race track is Honda Civic Type R. Even though it’s a front wheel drive type, with the correct tyre pressure it runs like a rear wheel drive. So, in one car you can enjoy two types. I am supposed to use this car in the upcoming race in Malaysia. And out of the local cars, the most fun to drive one is the Toyota Supra right behind me. Toyota and BMW made this car in collaboration.
Many jokingly say this car is BMW G4 or Gupra. The reason behind this collaboration is that, currently Toyota mainly makes family cars or sedans and the BMW car engine focuses on making the car performance-centric. So, for the correct engine Toyota has collaborated with BMW. So they could provide that consumer base with the suitable cars. In Bangladesh, these cars are still considered too expensive but abroad they are selling quite well.
Your latest win meant a lot to you. Is there any other special win like this that has given you a lot of joy?
Volkswagen Polo Cup started this year in India. In that race, there are 22 identical cars and you are not allowed to make any modifications to the car. Volkswagen provides those cars. The racers in India are true athletes. They take every competition very seriously. A little leniency or praise doesn’t affect their performance. While competing, they are ruthless and savage. Four Bangladeshis went there to compete, me, my student Ishayet Hossain and two others from Chattogram and Dhaka respectively. Only I finished in the podium thrice, twice I came second and I won the race once.
After the race I said in an interview that winning this race in India is equivalent of winning 10 races elsewhere because this race was extremely competitive. The video of the race also proves that. The timing of the first 14 cars in the qualifying race ranged between one second. I feel that this race is as competitive as a Formula One race. 14 cars qualifying with timings ranging within one second is a very unique thing to happen. The races in India are really tough and challenging. The cars, fuel level, weight, everything is same. So, the margin of error is very thin. You have to use your wits to win a race here. You also have to think about how to deal with people, how to handle cars. It’s also important to be politically correct, because racing is done in two stages, inside the track and also outside of it.
(To be continued)
(A haal.fashion interview translated into English by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy)