The desert challenge – The Express Tribune
Passion can make you do crazy things. Boundaries cease to exist and a thin line divides passion and insanity.
The seventh Jhal Magsi Desert Challenge 2011, in a village put on the map by virtue of the event itself, had over 50 participants and the terrain – the mountains and sand – provided the perfect setting. But it’s not the sights of the village that induces the awe, it’s the extent to which the drivers go in order to conquer the terrain, the limits they cross and the hurdles they overcome, making the crowd go wild with every rev of the engine.
The journey to Jhal is annoying and frustrating but drivers still take part, bringing with them mechanics, navigators and guests, with equipment coming in from all parts of Pakistan. The obstacles exist in numbers, but so do the SUVs. Driven by passion, blessed with money and armed with the ‘bad boys’ of the road, the participants hope to enjoy every moment.
Fitness the key
Motorsports is not a form of exercise to many. The onlookers only see drivers sitting behind the wheel, oblivious of the endless training they have endured prior to taking that position. Deep concentration, sharp reflexes and optimum fitness levels remain key ingredients if success is to be tasted at this 194-kilometre track.
Some spend hours on the treadmill, others opt for yoga. But for a driver and the navigator, fitness remains key.
“You need sharp reflexes and immense concentration,” said Mansoor Halim, a navigator for one of the participants. “I was practising karate before the race in order to be fit.”
Navigators remain the drivers’ right hand men during a race
. Trust defines their relationship as one wrong move can not only end their chances in the race but also their existence.Stars of the show
Nadir Magsi, declared favourite by competitors and followers, has been termed Pakistan’s Michael Schumacher
by those who have seen him drive.
A regular at almost every event, Nadir is a pioneer, one who has kept motorsport alive in Pakistan. The veteran has raced in the deserts of Cholistan and has delighted crowds in Karachi’s Autocross. Despite the experience, and talent, Jhal’s terrain is always competition enough.
“My advice to the drivers has always been to keep things simple,” said Nadir. “It’s one of the toughest terrains and the body experiences enormous pressure here in Jhal.”
Despite the excitement and aura that surrounds the event, participation is quite low and most drivers are in their 40s. The youth is interested and passionate but the rally really is for those who can afford to spend a lot of money without thinking of a return.
There exist mixed feelings towards motorsports in Pakistan. With passion, the talent comes aplenty and the infrastructure for such events does exist, especially with a foreign driver taking part in this year’s contest. But all we see is a bunch of courageous individuals driving the sport forward.Published in The Express Tribune, December 25<SUP>th</SUP>, 2011.