When Vikhroli resident Mayur Kamat finished sixth in the final of the ‘One from a billion hunt’ — a Sahara Force India (only Force India back then) initiative to find and nurture an Indian Formula One driver — last October, he thought he had marked his arrival on the big stage. The fact that he managed this feat having never stepped into the cockpit of a racing car before, made him believe he was destined to make a career in motorsport.
Mayur was then flown to the United Kingdom’s premier motorsport destination, Silverstone, along with the Top 10 winners, where he spent a week training. Impressed with the 17-year-old’s performance, judges urged him to participate in karting events outside India, beginning with the Formula Fusion Go Karting Championship 2012 in UK. But being the son of an auto mechanic, Mayur’s career has been on the backburner due to lack of finances. It’s been over seven months now that Mayur’s father, Pisarnath has been running from pillar to post to raise funds for the promising lad, but with no luck.
Mayur, a science student from Dadar’s Kirti College was, in fact, advised to enter the Formula Fusion event by none other than Anthony Hamilton, father of former F1 World Champion and McLaren ace Lewis. Anthony is Sahara Force India driver Paul di Resta’s agent and was also one of the judges in Silverstone. “He (Hamilton Sr) said, ‘your driving is good. You should keep racing and kart in championships abroad. Lewis and many others participated in such (Formula Fusion) events before they made it big’,” Mayur told MiD DAY yesterday.
The Formula Fusion tournament began on April 20 in Hampshire. The next race is scheduled for May 25 at Buckmore Park in Kent, where McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Hamilton learnt their trade. Mayur is hopeful he can make it to Kent. “It’s very important. I need a chance to prove my talent,” said Mayur, who has learnt three European languages (German, French and Italian) in order to ensure communication is not a barrier if and when he gets a chance to drive professionally abroad. The Formula Fusion final is in Northamptonshire on October 12. But to qualify for it, Mayur must clock a Top 4 finish in any of the remaining five races (Kent-May 25, Greater Manchester-June 29, Teesside — July 20, Birmingham —August 17, and Hertfordshire — September 21). Needless to say, every missed race, drastically reduces his chances of making that final.
Pillar of strength
On the personal front, Mayur’s father has been his pillar of strength. Pisarnath has raised his only child encouraging him to achieve whatever he sets his sights on. And despite the high cost (approx R1,73000 including travel, training, boarding, lodging, etc), Pisarnath, who runs a garage in Matunga, is not giving up on his son’s Formula Fusion prospects just yet. “Money is the only thing that is pulling him back. The problem is that not many understand this sport here. But if he gets a chance, I’m sure he’ll prove his worth. I will keep trying,” said Pisarnath, who is extremely confident of his son’s talent. And he should be, considering Mayur has excelled in most fields he’s taken to. He won gold in the All-India Rifle Shooting Competition in 2010 in Jalandhar and was also awarded the All-India Best Cadet medal as part of the National Cadet Corps’ All-India Republic Day Camp the same year. Mayur aspires to join the armed forces, if a career in motorsport does not work out.
National rally champion and motorsport specialist Mazdayar Vatcha, hailed the father-son duo’s spirit. Mayur qualified for the One in a billion hunt final through the Vatcha-owned Kart Cave circuit in Hyderabad. “He (Mayur) has the natural ability to understand the dynamics of the vehicle he is driving. He is very hardworking. and has succeeded on his own merit. Also his father has taken interest in supporting and encouraging him,” said Vatcha, whom Mayur considers his guru.