Pratik Prabhudessai – The Raid de Himalaya 2017 Champion
As I watched Pratik Prabhudessai accept his awards at the 19th Raid de Himalaya prize distribution ceremony, I couldn’t help but wonder how well deserved his victory was.
On the first day of the six day rally Pratik stopped to help a friend and fellow competitor who had crashed his motorcycle. He lifted the fallen motorcycle and stayed close to his friend for some time to ensure that he was ok before continuing to speed towards the end of the competition stage. In doing so he wasted precious minutes which would have pushed him higher up in ranking.
One the second day Pratik rode on a flat tyre for 50 kms and yet managed to complete the competition stage in around the same time as the rest of the competitors.
The third day started at Pang where the temperature at the 4 am start was minus 9 degrees Centigrade. Pratik couldn’t curl the fingers of his right hand around the throttle and he ended up riding his motorcycle through the transport stage using the base of his palm. He cried inside his helmet the whole way till he reached the competition stage where the temperature became a little more bearable. Some competitors gave up at Pang as they couldn’t take the cold anymore.
The fifth day showed us what Pratik was actually made up of. He started the day trailing another Himalayan rider who got a flat tyre during the first competition stage of the day. He stopped to check on his rival. He then raced to the finish line to notify the rival’s support crew so that they could be prepared to fix the tyre as the next competition stage would start quickly. When his rival reached the end of the competition stage his support crew realised that they couldn’t fix the tyre and they didn’t have a spare one. This meant that the rival would be eliminated from the rally and Pratik would take his place in the group. Fully understanding this Pratik offered to give his rival his own spare tyre, inspite of his tyre having a superficial gash which could potentially have disastrous consequences for him. He could have elected to swap his torn tyre with his spare one and move one place up. But instead he chose to give his spare tyre to a competitor who he was trying to beat.
On the sixth and final day, Pratik was following a competitor who was ahead of him in ranking but from a different group. Both were cruising along as it was the transportation stage. He noticed the competitor take a wrong turn and head away from the start of the upcoming competition stage. This could be disastrous for the competitor as he would potentially not reach the competition stage in time after he realised that he had gone the wrong way. Pratik chased the competitor, flagged him down and led him to the right place. In the end this competitor came 9th overall and Pratik came 10th. If Pratik hadn’t done what he did, he may have stood 9th overall.
I asked Pratik why he did what he did. His answer was simple, “I believe if something is destined to be yours, it will be yours. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do.”