Q & A with Baldev Singh Chager

Back-to-back Safari Rally winner and all-round rally hero, Baldev Singh Chager is one of the favourites ahead of this year’s Safari Classic Rally. We caught up with Baldev (a.k.a. Boldy) on his return from the recent Balkan Classic Rally to get an insight into his life beyond racing.

Q: How does your day start and end?

A: I am not a morning person: waking me up is like cranking a diesel engine that’s really hard to start every morning. Once I get going, I’m fine for the day. I rarely take breakfast, but usually have some juice: preferably carrot or something from berries. I’m always late getting out of the house so it is all a rush to get to work. I don’t drink tea or coffee: have never done so, ever since childhood.

Once I’m at work, the pace gets busy and hectic with our line of business which is service based. I sort out some e-mails and follow up on what’s happening in the garage. I’m a person who likes to get my hands dirty and do whatever is necessary. I am not a fan of mobile phones – mine always seems to ring as soon as my hands get dirty or when I’m concentrating on something technical. Once the day is over I’m back home and working on my rally car which I prepare at home as it’s too hectic at work to focus on details. My family is very supportive of my enthusiasm for all forms of motorsport.

Q: What about outside of home – do you have time for a social life?

A: My social life revolves around friends, as I have very few close family members in Kenya. Most on my side of the family have emigrated. The most social thing I do is every now and then I get together with my friends and do a koroga or just enjoy a few drinks to keep in touch. I like to cook for my friends: it’s a trait I picked up from elder brother, Raji Chager.

I try to get out and go to the gym or play squash regularly, but it seems to work in phases, taking off with a lot of steam but then stopping a few weeks later. I’m not a member of many clubs or institutions because motorsport takes up so much of my time. The institutions or clubs I am involved with are mostly motorsport based.

Q: Do you have any rally superstitions?

A: I don’t have any superstitions as such. One thing I always do is avoid alcohol for at least one week before a rally. But generally the rest remains the same. My faith is important: I believe strongly in God and with faith, superstitions go out of the window. I believe God does what is best for me and I accept things as they happen. If it’s meant to be, so will it be and vice versa.

Q: You are a second-generation motorsport competitor. Does that help your results?

A: Second generation motorsport competitors have the advantage of hand-me-down knowledge which is vital and priceless. Competitors born among farmers have the advantage of being off road and driving a lot on the farm in all sorts of conditions. I believe this helps us judge the roads better and makes us very comfortable with being off-road. Many farmers are also quite technically skilled, as this is very important when running machinery.

Those who grow up around mechanics may also be very technical, with a detailed knowledge of the cars they prepare. Always in the back of their head, they are mindful of the chance of mechanical failure and the dire consequences which would follow. This gives them a certain conservative streak, which always helps to protect the car and get to the finish. I think all of this combined gives us an edge!

Original story by Samson Ateka