It all starts with a dream! A dream to make a dent and leave a mark. And it was no different for Paras Bhimta, a common man from Jubbal, Himachal Pradesh who finally made it big being the fastest driver to scale the length of India. Bhimta loves being behind the wheel and recently made it to the India Book of Records for being the fastest driver from Northern India to Southern India in the Solo drive category. He drove 3,848.5 km from Leh to Kanyakumari in just 55 hours 38 minutes in his 2018 Isuzu D-Max V-Cross and broke Dhruveer Gandhi’s record who did the same run in 56 hours and 20 minutes in his Skoda Octavia back in 2021. carandbike got the opportunity to speak to Paras Bhimta and get an insight of his recent feat and what’s next for him.
Driving almost 4,000 km across terrains in 55 hrs 38 mins is not everyone’s cup of tea. When did you come up with the idea of achieving this feat and what was your motivation?
So I thought of it in 2019 but the main preparations started after the Lockdown. Previously, the record I was chasing was 63 hours, but in September 2021 the 63 hours record was broken by Dhruveer in his Skoda Octavia and he made it in 56 hours and 20 mins. So my old planning went to the bin. I had to strategize my timings again and reschedule my pitstops for the new target. My motivation for this record was a to test my driving skills through every terrain and road condition in India as you see North to South solo expedition is considered as the toughest record attempt of all. So I wanted to test myself and my machine for this feat.
We understand that a lot of preparation and hard work must have gone behind this expedition. Please give us an overview of how you prepared for it and when did you start with your preparation?
Yes of course, there was a lot of hard work behind this, lots of sleepless nights and planning. I used to check google maps for 2 – 3 hours straight and had everything written down on the board. Every minor detail was covered, lot of research was done, pitstops were planned all over the map and designated person was appointed for the assist.
On the driving front, I work with Mountain Goat Expeditions and we do around 6 to 7 4×4 expeditions every year all over the country. So long endurance runs, driving in high pressure situations, navigating our way around, driving on every terrain known to man and working for 10 to 12 days with less than 4 hours of sleep is a second nature to us.
Why did you choose the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross for this expedition and what all modifications were required in your SUV?
A big bulky SUV that weighs 2.5 tons will not seem the best choice of wheels for this expedition that consists of around 80 percent of highway driving. But if you look into the details, this is a marathon not a sprint and we have to attempt this record on public roads not on a racetrack. It’s more about your average speed and not the top-speed. And the D-Max is a tank! You throw anything at this vehicle, any terrain, any road condition, any incline or decline, river rock, basically whatever…. It just cruises over anything, and moreover it is my personal vehicle so I was more confident behind the wheel.
Then, I knew it’s not super agile or comfortable. So the way I was building it for the last 2 years, it was super comfortable for me and I didn’t had a single cramp or soreness after such a long run. Then, my truck is not stock. It’s tuned by GT Tuners Bangalore to perfection, power output is 190 bhp. They had installed a ARB Safari Snorkel for clean and cold air intake, stainless steel intercooler and turbo pipes for consistent boost. The also designed a custom 3 inch down pipe which they bolted to the HKS Legamax straight pipe exhaust. We did this to maintain lower exhaust temperatures and consistent air flow. For air filter, we went for the K and N performance air filter. They also installed the ARB VR21 intensity auxiliary lights for better night vision and safety DRLs. I must say, Monish who owns the workshop is a genius when it comes to preparing the vehicle. His calculations were down to the last micron, it was like watching a master at work.
Who all were your supporting partners in this expedition in terms of logistics, planning, financing, and registering for the record?
For planning and logistics, there were no such partners but yes, in this record attempt a lot of people stood for me in terms of support with quick pit stops and accommodations. Hari from Team Redliners helped to get a quick pit stop in Bangalore and he escorted me out of the city in record time. For accommodation, I would like to thank Wang who owns the Hotel Silk Route in Leh. he provided me with Food and accommodation. For financing, I was on my own but Yokohama tyres India provided me with 6 new Geolander AT tyres for my vehicle.
And finally, my team- Mountain Goat Expeditions gave me the platform and exposure to prepare myself for this feat. This record will be registered with India Book Of Records and I have provided them with all the evidences they require to register my record.
What was the initial response of your sponsors when you presented the idea?
My only sponsor was Yokohama Tyres for this event. They were generous enough to put their trust in me and they provided me with the perfect set of tyres I needed for the attempt. And they pushed me for the record when I was demotivated due to the bad weather condition. I am grateful to them and looking forward to future partnerships.
How did the tyres perform?
I have used Yokohama’s rubber for a decade now and on a variety of cars. My Isuzu has never seen another set of tyres, it’s always been geolanders so I had my confidence. I was familiar with the compound as well, the tyres in this run have witnessed temperatures as low as from -4 degrees to 32 degrees, and they went from Off-road terrains, river crossings, gravel, rocks, tarmac ,twisty sections, wet tarmac and what not. For 3 days 2 nights there was not any surge in the tyre temperature or any increase in the pressure.
What were the challenges you faced during the drive in terms of physical endurance, driving, route issues, traffic and mechanical issues among others?
This drive straight from the start was very tough due to treacherous terrains. Bad Weather and there was a 2 day traffic jam that I had to encounter from Baralachala pass to Manali. Also, I encountered a long traffic jam from Ambala to Panipat and there I had to take a detour from Hisar to Karnal.
In terms of physical endurance, I didn’t face any major difficulty. Only minor fatigue as my body is trained for such endurance runs. Mechanical issues I actually had none! The truck performed like a breeze! It was exceptionally good and I did not face a single issue, not even a puncture.
Which was the most challenging part of the drive?
For the toughest route, I will say as soon you get down from the Yamuna Expressway, Agra to Nagpur is the toughest to deal with. Biggest caution on this route is cattle, they are everywhere on the road walking, sitting, running and so that was a big challenge to deal with. But my reflexes helped me to get through it.
How did you strategise the drive in terms of managing rush hour traffic, speed limits, sleep cycle and diet among others?
For rush hour traffic, I was able to manage my timings for crossing all the major cities. You cannot and should not overspeed anywhere, there are speed cameras all over the route, right from Tandi in Himachal Pradesh. I was under the speed limit throughout my run, I don’t have a single speeding ticket and I was not stopped once by anyone throughout the run.
For my sleep cycle, I slept for nearly 22 hours the day before I started my expedition. During the attempt, I could manage to sleep just for 4 hours throughout the run, 2 hours break each and I had 2-minute power naps.
Then, I kept my appetite in check during the run in a bid to prevent myself from getting drowsy. I only ate high protein and high fibre diet which gave me energy. But most important was to keep myself hydrated. I almost had 25 litres of liquid intake during my run because dehydration kicks-in fast, so I had to take precautions for that.
And finally what’s next for you? Can we look forward to more records and expeditions from Paras Bhimta? Did this achievement open any further opportunity for you?
This was the first step and there is a long way to go. I will, for sure, try to break the fastest east to west solo record and then I will try to challenge the fastest north to south group record with my team next year. So yes! There are lots of targets that I have to achieve. Hopefully, this achievement will open more doors for me and my team.