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Sh. Gombodorj: I like doing a victory lap as a gift for my fans

By B.BYAMBADORJ

The following interview is with Sh. Gombodorj, Master of off-road racing. Any off-road racing fan in Mongolia would recognize him – “a race without Gombodorj and D. Boldbaatar is so boring,” fans would say. Gombodorj used to always come along with his father Sharkhuu who is a Mongolian State Honored Driver (Transporter). Gombodorj would travel with his father when he is driving his truck around the country – that was when he got into driving.
The family of Sharkhuu has eight children – three of which are State Masters and two of them are Sport Masters of Mongolia. Sh. Gombodorj’s older sister is a famed judo coach Sh. Tsevelmaa. His younger sister is a Champion in Sambo [martial art], Sh. Pagmadulam. His younger brother is a boxer, State Master Sh. Ganzorig and his eldest brother is Sh. Gansukh, State Master of off-road racing.
This interview is translated from Udriin Shuudan newspaper.

-Please introduce yourself to our readers. 

-I was born in the Bugat sum of Gobi-Altai Province. I and my siblings established a gasoline transportation company, “Altain Bugat.” I drive trucks when I am not racing.
-When did you join the off-road racing universe? You have so many fans.
-My father is an honored driver; he has been driving throughout his entire life. Ever since I was young I dreamed of becoming a driver. That’s why I became a transport truck driver. My brother is Sh. Gansukh, Executive at “Altain Bugat” LLC. I did not like racing much, other than I used to go and watch racing tournaments with my brother.
During the winter of 2004, an independent racing match with cash prize took place in Darkhan, and my brother let me drive his car and forced me into the race. When I told him I cannot even shift my gear, he trained me for a day and the next day I raced.
Next, in September of 2004 I raced in “Ikh Sorilgo,” [meaning Great Endurance] as a sportsman. I was placed 4th. Even though I had the chance to be placed third, I lost one place because of a technical difficulty I had with my vehicle. But, this race was important in that it really showed me the excitement and fun of off-road racing. That was when my brother told me that my driving method is better than his, so he gave me his car.
-Considering how excited your brother was, who did you compete with in that race?
-Of course, I raced with very experienced and famous off-road racers like Kh. Gankhuu, P. Darkhanjargal and Ts. Jargalsaikhan. I was very proud and happy that I was placed 4th in a competition against these guys.
-It seems that off-road racing is a dangerous sport– it looks like as if the cars are about to bump into each other or even look like they are about to capsize. How did you feel just before your first race?
-Comparing myself to drivers today, I think I was relatively calm. Of course, I did not have fears whether I could drive the car. What I did fear was the other drivers – I knew I’d be driving against several skilled racers. My brothers would council me and show me a few tricks – “when you are racing, you will have to squeeze with other cars, push and bump into each other. Remember that you can do all the things they can do.”
At that time, D. Boldbaatar was the all-time and every-time champion. Just like B. Bat-Erdene [Mongolian wrestler], he would always win races.
-When was the first time you won a race? How many races have you won so far?
-Mongolian Auto Masters’ Union was established in 2006 and it held a series of racing competitions for the occasion. The last competition was held in December of that year and that is the one I won. Of course, I was so happy that I cried when I was standing on the stage with the gold medal around my neck, thinking “I finally reached what I aimed for.” I did earn a silver medal in a 2005 race before, but getting a gold medal really felt like an achievement.
Auto-Sport viewers were just waiting for a new champion to emerge – so many people came up to me, congratulated me and wished me luck. Just like any other sport, fans, viewers and trainers of off-road racing sports are always looking for able and skilled racers. Ts. Jargalsaikhan came to me after that race and told me, “I need to train a racer than can beat D. Boldbaatar. I will fix up your car.” So that was when I became his “student.” He set the foundation for all my future successes.
Last year, the Mongolian Auto Master’s Union declared the driver with the most wins since the establishment of the union – and I was chosen. I and D. Boldbaatar have only a slight difference in our record – he won 17 races and I won 18 races.
-What makes races more interesting?
-Viewers would say that the place or position of the racer is not very important, but any two or more racers in an interesting struggle to catch up to each other is very interesting and gives a lot of excitement to viewers.
-Which is more difficult: behind another racer or in front of a racer?
-I am happy when I am in the front, but it is a bit uncomfortable because I fear that if I make one small mistake the racer behind me will catch up to me. But when I am behind, I am more relaxed and I think of how I can catch up and pass that racer. I would examine his driving style – where he usually makes mistakes, where he breaks and how his turns are made. Then the next time he does it, I get the chance to pass him.
I feel especially relaxed when I am right behind Boldbaatar – but just as worried when I am in front of him.
There was a 20-lap race last May, me and Boldbaatar had a fierce racing match there but I was placed second. But viewers and fans came to me and told me that the whole race was very exciting in its entire and they considered both of us winners – this made me feel a lot better.
I feel good when our fans watch our races to watch how we would race, and put less priority on exactly who would win.
-When you win, you always drive one more lap. Why is that?
-When I am driving my extra lap I would wave my hand out of my car and watch my fans cheer and wave back. The extra lap is a gift for my fans that love and respect me and wish me luck in every race. I also do some stunts on my last lap when I have a long distance from my rival – such as sliding sideways on snow or mud, making my car “jump” long distances or driving on the back two wheels of my car – all to please my fans.
-Just like women that are not allowed to visit any ovoo, [place of nature worship on high ground], racers do not like travelling with a women in their race cars. I heard that you are different, why is that?
-I think I am the only off-road racer that does not take this as seriously as everyone else – I am a lot flexible when it comes to this. Not long after I began racing, there was a week-long vacation which included racers and journalists.
One female journalist asked me if she could stay in the car when I raced, saying she could write more interesting stories; so I agreed. Some racers did not like what I did, but since we are all born of mothers I had no problems with that.
My wife can sit in my car – and my mother is a big fan of mine, too. Three or four years ago a six year old girl came to me with his father and asked me if she could sit in my car during a race, I agreed. Even now small girls would come and ask me if they could accompany me throughout the race – I do not know any of them but I know they are all my fans, and they have my respect.
As I said before, this is also a part of my gift I have for all my fans, the people who respect and love me.
-We see that some cars are capsized and sometimes they roll over several times before coming to a stop. What’s surprising is that the drivers would come out of their cars, put their cars on their wheels and then start to race again. How can they do this?
-Since the Russian UAZ-469 racing car is modified in a way that is specifically designed for off-road racing, every possible safety measures, equipment and racing tools are installed. There are strengthened axes inside the cabin which can withhold no matter how many times you roll over. We would also wear safety helmets, of course.
I was rolled over and capsized three times in my racing career. The first one was when I tried to pass Boldbaatar and had my car slide on ice – but I sustained no damage.
In racing, it is a fact that you would bump into something or fall into something one day or another – the most important thing is safety. If you pay careful attention to safety, you don’t get injuries in such accidents. Most of the vehicle safety measures are checked by older brother of Boldbaatar, D. Damdindorj. Also, technical judge D. Damdinkhorloo checks safety measures and tools just before a race commences.
-Are there any incidents where drivers intentionally bump into another?
-Not really. If they do that, they will be removed from the race. Some drivers used to do that before 2009. But in 2009 a regulation made forceful and intentional bumping into another car an offence. For example, if a car is to hit another car that is making a sharp turn, that car would obviously capsize, or at least fall on its side.
But now, this kind of bumping is illegal.
-What is the maximum velocity of UAZ-469? What was the maximum speed in which you drove it?
-They say that the maximum velocity of this car is 160 kilometers per hour. Personally I reached 120 km/h during a long-distance race. My maximum speed on a 180 degree turn was 50 km/h.
This car is designed for endurance, not speed. It is difficult to speed faster than 120 km/h, even it is achieved we can expect a lot of malfunctions later.
-All racers have their identification numbers. Yours is 68 – why did you choose this number?
-I chose this number because when I was just entering the world of off-road racing, Asashoryu Dagvadorj became the 68th Yokozuna of Sumo, and the first Mongolian Yokozuna in the history of the sport. I chose this number because I wanted to be a champion just like him.
Brother Dagva is a good friend of Boldbaatar. During one racing match, Boldbaatar told me Dagvadorj is coming to see the race, and told me he’d be looking for the number 68. I won that race and Dagvadorj awarded me a thousand dollars.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=2192

Posted by on Dec 13 2012. Filed under Топ мэдээ. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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