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Karamjit confident of defending world title

December 09, 2003 20:56 IST

MRF India Rally winner Karamjit Singh said he was confident of defending his World Rally Championship title next year on a new car.

Karamjit, a Malaysian of Indian origin, was speaking at a video-conference which was viewed at six centres - New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

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Talking about his future, Karamjit said "I would like to defend my world title and also win the overall championship in the Asia Pacific event next year".

Asked whether the car which he has been using for over four years now had "life", Karamjit said "next year I will be driving a new car with financial assistance from the Malaysian government and continued support by JK Tyres".

Karamjit talked on various aspects of 'rallying' and shared his experience while he also declared that there was no potential Indian who could be his navigator.

"Now the rallying in world level is of highest class. There is no Indian in the field now and a navigator has to be as good as a driver. A simple mistake by a navigator could upset the whole rhythm of the driver howsoever he is competent," he said.

Karamjit, for whom the sustainability of his position in the world of rallying has been a question of hand to mouth living, displayed great sportsmanship when he was dragged into explain the problems that he faced in the MRF sponsored Asia Pacific leg of Pune rally last Sunday.

"Not being allowed to carry car number one on my vehicle and pushed to the fifth position at the start by the Organising Committee did not weigh me down but it definitely
affected JK Tyres.

"It did not affect me at all, though my car is used to be number one... I am happy to win the event after being behind the leaders in the first leg of Pune event," he said.

The Malaysian was of the opinion that apart from the "ceremonial start" safety aspect was good in the last week's Pune rally. "The terrain was rather rough. The mileage in terms of running a world championship was found wanting."

Karamjit, eight times Malaysian, twice Asia Pacific in Group A and thrice Asia Pacific (Group N) champion, said "Safari Rally in East Africa was the toughest in my career.

"It was unfortunate that two events -- in Carolina due to typhoon and in China due to massive floods -- were cancelled but I was able to compete in three of the events this year in Group A category," he said adding that he was happy with his long association with JK Tyres.

The world champion's team Manager, Dato Abdul Razack, who talked in detail about the need for Indian rallyists to compete in events outside India, said "we have a fool proof programme in place both financially and structurally for Karamjit".

Sanjay Sharma, head of Motorsport divison of JK Industries, said "keeping in tune with the Company's decision to develop the sport in India, JK Industries has decided to field Indian drivers in Asia Pacific rallies from next year".

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