Just weeks after the fabulous launch of the VW Polo Proto in Uganda; there was certainly no doubt who the owner was but Rajiv Ruparelia, I was called about my earlier request for an interview.
The formality around the acceptance to meet Rajiv was really amazing.
Friday evening it was. I was on time at our rendezvous; the Ruparelia residence.
The wait was something. You may know, Rajiv is a businessman. That counts for being so busy, but I sat patiently.
And when he finally got a breather, he called me to his table.
And as courteous as he can be; Rajiv apologized for the delay.
It did not bother me much. After all, not often does one get this opportunity.
Anyway, on went the formalities of introducing myself and quickly the chat about his sporting life.
“I am a simple man, hard worker actually majority know me as a businessman,” he said.
“People don’t remember I was once the youngest golf champion in Uganda. I was a handicap four when I was sixteen years in 2006,” he added.
Well, that came as a shocker to me too. But Rajiv has been around and in sport for most of his life.
“I was in the first rugby team and football team at my university in the UK, on the second team in tennis and squash. So, sports has always been in me and I am competitive,” he adds with a laugh.
Rajiv is the owner of the latest rally car in Uganda. I remind him about the launch of the VW Polo.
It was a different kind of event that Motorsport rarely gets to see but for Rajiv, it marked his entry into a sport of grit and speed.
“I love cars, speed and I love adrenaline. Motorsport was just the incoming thing for me,” he said.
Rajiv now 29 years old should have joined rallying over ten years ago but the passing of his uncle Riyaz Kurji in a rally car accident put to a stop to any ambitions.
It was a tough decision he says.
“I had to be stopped by my parents till now. And I cannot blame them.”
But his dream, like many he has been able to fulfill in business and other sport could be realised.
Rajiv hopes to hit the race track with a bang than a whimper despite speaking cautiously about it.
“I am just here to have fun and finish rallies; that is my main focus.
“I will put a lot of effort and time to learn my team, my co-driver and mechanics then I can have a target in this sport.
“But finishing rallies will be the priority.”
Rajiv will be making his debut soon. He is not worried about regulations that could hold him back.
“I know about the regulations. I have been told about it. But I am not here to break the rules.
“I will be happy to follow what the federation says. If I am to do autocross then be it.”
Regulations aside, Rajiv spoke of his admiration for Chipper Adams and how he respects every driver he will be competing with.
For him, the wait to notch the gears and rev up the Polo will be over in a few weeks.
As we parted, I realized just a few things that will keep the new entrant to the sport going; that is determination