Couple in sync with time, distance, speed...

The husband-wife team of Satish Gopalkrishnan and Savera DSouza is the best in the business

Couple in sync with time, distance, speed...

Every now and then in sport, one finds a hobby turning out to be more than a recreational activity. There have been ample instances in Indian motor sport’s relatively long history where people who turn to any one of its forms stick to it as its adrenaline rush can be compared to none.

From the likes of Formula One drivers Narain Karthikeyen and Karun Chandhok to rally drivers Gaurav Gill and VR Naren Kumar, it all began as nothing more than a hobby. They eventually found their calling in the sport but many others who charted similar paths have fallen by the wayside.

The story of Indian motor sport’s ‘First Couple’ is a little simpler. It is common knowledge that Satish Gopalkrishnan and Savera D’Souza are currently the best TSD (Time, Speed, Distance) duo in the country but it was not something they intended to become and that’s what makes this tale all the more appealing.

Following a navigator course conducted by Race Camp in Noida in 2011, the duo realised that TSD gave them the avenue to follow their urge to get into a car and drive long distances. What began as an extension of a hobby took on a more serious face when they signed up for the 2012 season after a brief foray in 2011.

They were not the only husband-wife duo in any of these races, but they were the best of the lot. In fact, their performances were putting to shame some of the more seasoned drivers and navigators.

They won the Dakshin Dare – their first big win out of the three other main TSD rallies (Desert Storm, Mughal Rally and Raid de Himalaya) -- in their first year (2011). But something changed in 2012 as they finished on podium in all the 13 rallies they took part in, including seven overall wins. The year also saw them claim the Indian National (TSD) Rally Championship title.  No one got around to figuring out how a couple from Bangalore with such little experience could dethrone well established teams, but when they did, TSD rallying had found a new dimension. This is not to say that Satish and Savera did not possess the skill or the temperament to do well but something that Satish hit upon to make life easier for his stoic wife turned out to be TSD’s biggest blessing in ages.

In noticing that Savera had a tough time manually calculating each and every parameter on the drive, the software engineer in Satish woke up and he designed what he — and the rest of the field that uses it now — calls it, the TSD Metre.

The small hand-held device, which was built around a basic scientific calculator, did all the calculations, ensuring the navigator was able to focus on what lay ahead, making it easier for the driver.

“We enjoy getting into the car and driving long distances. We didn’t know much about TSD until early 2011 when we went for that camp in Noida. We then decided to take part in a few rallies. There are a lot of weekend rallies in Bangalore so we drove in those before signing up for the Dakshin Dare later that year,” said Satish, who has been married to Savera for eight years. 

“We are very different individuals and that’s perhaps why it works. She drives for the pleasure of it. I do the same but I have to win. I am very competitive that way and she is very calm. So that is one of the reasons we do well I guess.”

Talking about the TSD Metre, the Kochi-born driver said: “I saw Savera having a tough time making so many calculations and I also realised that that cost us a lot of time and also increased the chances of errors. So I returned from a rally and got to work on a device to make it all easier. So I picked up a scientific calculator and worked on it. Basically now you just need to feed in the information and it calculates for you.”

While Satish spoke with the passion of someone who has been part of the fraternity for generations, Savera was clearly more detached even if extremely aware. “Sometimes it is hard driving in rallies and I would be lying if I said we don’t argue and things like that. We do and it does get hard but we know our parts and respect each other for it. When we are done rallying we discuss it till we get home sometimes but we stop once we reach home. Maybe the fact that we are opposites when we are in a car works for us,” said the engineer.

The couple has been on a wonderful run these past few years but with every other team employing the TSD Metre now, they will need to rely on each other -- the perfect yin and yang – to continue putting up impressive performances.

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