Mumbai: Breaking with tradition, the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) has proposed the name of senior co-driver Musa Sherif for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
Rally drivers normally get the accolades but this is the first time that the name of a co-driver (navigator) has been put up for the highest sports award in the country.
Gaurav Gill is the only driver to get the Arjuna Award, in 2019, after FMSCI was recognised the same year as the national federation for motor sports by the government.
Sherif, who is based out of Kasaragod (Kerala), is India's most successful co-driver and has won the national title a whopping seven times with Gaurav Gill.
The 48-year-old co-driver, who has been into rallying for the last 30 years, has represented India at the international level too and won many titles including three back-to-back titles in UAE, APRC 2 Asia Cup, Malaysian 4X4.
Sherif, who has participated in a total of 296 rallies as co-driver/navigator, has appeared alongside 49 different rally drivers over his career.
He has been a regular presence besides Gaurav Gill, having entered into 65 rallies with 38 overall wins. Apart from seven national titles, he won the gruelling Dakshin Dare on three occasions.
Sherif's first and only APRC 2 title came partnering Sanjay Takale from Pune.
"It is indeed a great honour for me and I would like to thank FMSCI for this recognition. It has been a long journey for me and over the years I partnered with 49 drivers and I thank each and every one of them for their support," Musa said on being proposed for the prestigious award.
While Sherif has been proposed for Khel Ratna, the FMSCI has nominated young driver Jehan Daruvala for the Arjuna Award for finishing third overall in the 2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship.
Daruvala is now a part of the Red Bull Junior Team and competes in the FIA Formula 2 Championship for the Carlin racing team. In 2020, he finished seventh in the championship, with one win and two podium appearances.
For the Dronacharya Award, FMSCI has proposed the name of its president Akbar Ebrahim. A former racing driver himself, Ebrahim has mentored many drivers including son Armaan.