If you told anyone, even a few years back, that someone from Bangladesh would win an international racing championship in near future, they would laugh it off. And you wouldn't blame them.
It was beyond anyone's wildest dream that a motorsport racer from a country, where there is no race track to begin with, would compete with international racers and win a championship on his own.
But Avik Anwar, the pioneer of motorsport in Bangladesh, is making this wild dream come true.
The pro racer is just a race away in the NGK Pro Car Championship in Dubai, UAE from becoming the first-ever international championship winner from Bangladesh.
He is currently leading the championship by a mammoth 53 points after five rounds. Even if he doesn't race in the sixth and final round on 12 March, he will still be winning the championship by some margin.
Rewriting history in his own way.
"Winning a championship was always my goal. I was the local champion three years in a row when the rallycross events happened from 2014 till 2016, and now I am going to be an international champion in a racing event representing Bangladesh. Stuff of dreams," a proud Avik told The Business Standard (TBS).
"More than me being proud I hope I have made my countrymen and my nation proud through something that Bangladesh is less known for. It is about breaking the norm and boundaries, and showing that a Bangladeshi can achieve anything that he/she sets out in their heart to do," he added.
He also finished fourth in the Volkswagen Polo Cup in India last month. Avik was the first Bangladeshi to complete a back to back podium finish along with a race win in Round 4 in the tournament.
'No one knows what I go through behind the scenes'
This success didn't come overnight for Avik. He had to go through a lot of difficulties throughout the NGK Pro Car Championship journey and the other races he participated in the past year.
He raced with an injured hand and shoulder, he had his family members sick back home while he was racing abroad and in the last incident in Dubai, he was put into an upper-grade race unjustly just because he had a massive lead in the championship over other racers.
" I was leading the GT 86 class race by a huge margin. So the organizers thought I would win the race anyway and made me race in Class 2, which is a two-class upgrade over what I was racing, without letting me know. My car wouldn't be enough to compete in such a class and I got third place there. They told me that I should be happy that I was third but I protested that it was unfair for them to do so," Avik said.
The ongoing pandemic didn't help him either.
"It is very hectic (racing during the pandemic). Whenever we travel to Dubai, we have to do two Covid tests. The financial cost is huge. Every time before any racing event, you have to account for BDT 15,000 for Covid tests," Avik added.
Sponsorship still a headache
Avik stated last year that he has to bear nearly BDT 30-35 lakhs on his own after all the sponsorship deals. One would hope the situation has improved over the past year after all the success he brought. But it is even worse, said Avik.
"Actually the situation hasn't improved by any means," Avik stated.
"Sponsorships are decreasing now as the situation of businesses is not good. We have to exchange many deals to get sponsorships now. I have to do a lot of things like doing PR or ads to get sponsorships from big companies. It is basically a give and take thing rather than a pure sponsored one," he added.
The next step for the history maker
All the success Avik has achieved in the past couple of years have only made the fans expect more of him. They even want to see Avik racing in something closer to F1 someday. But clear-headed Avik has a stable plan.
"I will participate in Le Mans, hopefully within the next four years."
But before that Avik has a busy 2022 ahead of him. This year he will go to Malaysia, the most competitive grid out there. He will also take part in the UAE race again this year. He will be in a higher class in that race which is the Clio Cup class. For that, Avik will prepare a car with help of his team Bangladesh Motorsports.
The champion racer will also test himself in one of the toughest racing tracks in the world. Avik will go to Germany this year to practice on a track named Nürburgring, popularly known as 'The Green Hell'.
"At first, when I used to win races, it felt like it was due to sheer luck. However, now it feels like I deserve it. Now I know what to do and how to do it," a confident Avik said.
With such confidence and passion towards the sport, Avik will only get better and keep making more history for Bangladesh on race tracks in the coming days.