Ga­m­age, Fa­ham over­all 3rd in Asia

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - By Naushad Amit

Two mo­tor­sports en­thu­si­asts, Ya­sith Ga­m­age and Ishad Fa­ham, have set their sights on fin­ish­ing off the Asia Auto Gymkhana Cham­pi­onship (AAGC) 2017 in style, after be­com­ing the 3rd best pair in the last out­ing held in Tai­wan. Ga­m­age and Fa­ham claimed over­all 3rd po­si­tion after test­ing their skills in 2 pre­vi­ous Legs held in In­done­sia and South Korea, where they were placed be­tween 8th and 9th over­all, from 16 Asian na­tions.

Com­ing 3rd in Tai­wan was not a fluke at the AAGC 2017 Se­ries, where driv­ing skills be­come sec­ondary. Gymkhana driv­ing re­quires steer­ing dis­ci­pline, ma­neu­ver­ing skills and more im­por­tantly, mem­o­ris­ing abil­ity.

"If you com­pare with Mo­tor­cross or races held on cour­ses, Gymkhana is a to­tally dif­fer­ent ball­game. It is not at all about driv­ing fast, but cer­tainly re­quires more than what is ex­pected from an or­di­nary race driver. I was a to­tal stranger to it some months ago, but now I am bet­ter than be­fore, so is my part­ner Ishad," said Ga­m­age, freshly after the win in Tai­wan.

Ga­m­age's first out­ing at a Gymkhana event hap­pened to be with Devin Seras­inghe, son of vet­eran race driver Upul­wan Seras­inghe. Both Ga­m­age and Jr. Seras­inghe, be­ing Na­tional 1000cc Cham­pi­onship win­ners, the Cey­lon Mo­tor Sports Club (CMSC), never had no sec­ond thoughts in nom­i­nat­ing the duo for the AAGC 2017 Se­ries. They rep­re­sented Sri Lanka at the Se­ries opener held in In­done­sia and won the hearts of fel­low com­peti­tors, as well as the of­fi­cials and or­gan­is­ers, as well man­nered and skilled driv­ers.

But with Jr. Seras­inghe's aca­demic com­mit­ments, Ga­m­age was paired off with Fa­ham, who is based in Aus­tralia. Ga­m­age, to­gether with Fa­ham, man­aged to con­tinue what he flagged off in In­done­sia with Jr. Seras­inghe. With set­backs, mainly faced by Ga­m­age, he and Fa­ham man­aged to fight to­gether to claim over­all 9th in Korea.

"What we carry with us for Gymkhana com­pe­ti­tions are our race kits and gears. Ishad had done his warm up in Aus­tralia and ar­rived in Korea on time, but I landed min­utes be­fore the start of the com­pe­ti­tion, due to lo­gis­tic is­sues. Ad­ding more trou­ble, my lug­gage with the sport­ing gears, had been mis­placed dur­ing trans­fer. Any­how, com­peti­tors from other coun­tries were re­ally help­ful, they of­fered me their kits, gloves and hel­mets so I could start on time. And they were happy to see us per­form­ing de­spite all these set­backs. The or­gan­is­ers were re­ally im­pressed with our fi­nal out­come," stated Ga­m­age.

After the Korean ex­pe­ri­ence, Ga­m­age and Fa­ham had am­ple time to gear up for the Tai­wan Leg, which was held in the last week­end in Oc­to­ber. With the mix­ture of the pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence, the duo reached Tai­wan well in ad­vance, with the sole in­ten­tion of per­form­ing well.

"As told be­fore, we are given 5 lay­out plans of how we should drive. The whole course is placed with plas­tic cones, and it's up to us driv­ers to mem­o­rise our map and drive accordingly with the best tim­ing. As the 5 lay­out plans are di­vided be­tween me and Ishad, even­tu­ally, the of­fi­cials add up our tim­ings and make out an av­er­age score based on facts from all 5 runs. Even both of us were im­pressed to find our names among the top 4 on the fi­nal day," Ga­m­age and Fa­ham recalled.

When Sri Lanka en­tered the AAGC Se­ries, after 18 long years, they were placed below par and had no rank­ings. But, after grad­u­ally mas­ter­ing the re­quired skills for Gymkhanas, such as cones, tires, bar­rels, re­ver­sals, 180 de­gree to 360 de­gree spins, park­ing boxes, fig­ure 8s, drift­ing and other ad­vanced skills, Ga­m­age and Fa­ham man­aged to el­e­vate Sri Lanka to over­all 3rd in Asia. The pair­ing of Ga­m­age and Fa­ham was so im­pres­sive that they man­aged to out­smart some of the ex­pe­ri­enced Gymkhana ex­perts from Ja­pan and In­done­sia.

"To­gether with Ya­sith, we were able to achieve the ag­gre­gate and win the over­all Third Place tro­phy for Sri Lanka. It was a great achieve­ment for us, par­tic­u­larly be­cause it be­ing only the sec­ond out­ing as a team. We have one more Leg of the AAGC Se­ries be­fore the end of 2017 in Thai­land, and surely, we are ea­ger and com­mit­ted to bet­ter our record there," Fa­ham elat­edly said.

The fu­ture of the duo at Gymkhana rac­ing is not ce­mented, as the CMSC will have to de­cide the AAGC Se­ries rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Sri Lanka next sea­son. But Ga­m­age and Fa­ham have cer­tainly ce­mented their places at Gymkhana rac­ing. Ga­m­age also aims to recom­mence his do­mes­tic rac­ing ca­reer in the SLGT Super Cars class. Fa­ham, an un­der­grad­u­ate at Monash Univer­sity in Aus­tralia, con­tin­ues to en­gage in rac­ing ac­tiv­i­ties down un­der. But, both are adamant to earn a rep­u­ta­tion and bring honour to Sri Lanka at their AAGC 2017 Se­ries sea­son clo­sure. By next year, Ga­m­age hopes to con­duct a few Gymkhana events in Sri Lanka, for which he has al­ready ini­ti­ated the ground­work by can­vass­ing for po­ten­tial or­gan­is­ers and spon­sors.

"We must thank our spon­sors, Aus­tralia Col­lege of Busi­ness & Tech­nol­ogy (ACBT), where I'm em­ployed at, and Fazaal Ce­ram­ics, Ishad's fam­ily busi­ness. The rac­ing cars at Gymkhana events are pro­vided by the or­gan­is­ers, as it's an event rule. Our other ex­penses are met by our spon­sors. Even­tu­ally, what­ever we at­tempt is to bring glory to our coun­try, which will be our ob­jec­tive, as long as we are en­gaged in mo­tor rac­ing," Ga­m­age con­cluded.

Ga­m­age (R) and Fa­ham 2nd L) after their win

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