Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and make your own way
My fondest memories of desert rallying dates back to circa 2007 when I was invited to watch Freedom Rally held in Gawadar by my friend Khizar Rashid. We accomplished the task of conquering the dunes and hills in his mighty Land Rover. It has always been a niche of motorsport that has enthralled me but was let down by lack of appropriate gear and availability of vehicle.
Recently I had the pleasure to meet Ikram from Motoventure. He is a professional dirt bike instructor and a rally racer from India. He left his corporate job four years ago to chase his dreams and become self-employed. He now manages Motoventure , a platform that enables the public an opportunity to ride dirt bikes in a safe an fun environment without owning them . Besides the two pickup trucks, he owns for running errands and rescuing people stranded in the desert, he has a Japanese sports car that we see too often on the streets but not in its natural habitat.
His dream of chasing freedom from the manic life of UAE was to acquire a motor vehicle that is not just restricted to the tarmac. He did not have to look much further and shortlisted one of the two all-wheel drive (AWD) cars on sale in the UAE and purchased his prized Subaru Impreza WRX (Hawkeye). The AWD manufactured by Subaru is a genius and the glorious WRC days are a testament to it.
He purchased a 5 speed manual Impreza WRX on sale four years ago and it has grown a long way alongside his business activities. The car is still pretty stock. The original suspension has been replaced with long travel rally suspension that sits on 16” BBS lightweight rally wheels. The wheels are wrapped 60 profile tyres for off road driving.
Ikram’s Subie is capable to driving and enduring any terrain that you throw at it and has dominated the rocky mountains and valleys, the dunes and deserts and of course the asphalt. He has made a number of trips around the Emirates but his most frequent one is a right turn off the highway onto a dirt track and wherever it leads him.
The built took place locally and Ikram himself was part of it. I rode shotgun in the passenger seat. The inside is very simple and purpose built. First thing I realized was there is no air conditioner in the car and you have three Defi gauges staring back at you. The air conditioner was removed as Ikram could not get it to work also that would mean compromising on the power available to propel the car (mostly the latter). The burble of the Boxer engine can be felt in your spine since the seats are standard and automatically one needs to turn up the volume of their speech. A roll cage is on the way. The car is tuned to deliver 300 horses to the crank and boy what a ride it delivers when taken off road. It literally glides of the bumps and rocks like a walk in the park. The Subie responded instantly, hitting the dunes full throttle and then decelerating hard and fast, propelling me forwards against my harness. Then, almost just as fast as the speed was washed off, it took off again.
The Subie tackles the terrains like a dream. Whatever you throw at it, it will be annihilated. Ikram’s piloting skills are clinical. It is a spectacle to watch him maneuver the car at speeds on which cars would probably slide or tumble. Other 4×4 and SUV owners would not dare to enter these sacred landscapes, heck even our crew car was struggling to keep up with us. The front pumper had to be removed and replaced with an offroad bumper (no skid plate) paired with hi intensity LED lights to guide the way. The Impreza looks meaner now. The desert driving take an awful toll on the clutch and in four years ownership, Ikram has replaced three organic clutches. He is contemplating the odds of running a ceramic or a metallic clutch. This Subaru is pretty far from typical.
One of the best perks of being a part of JDM-UAE family is seeing first-hand what’s possible when smart and passionate people dedicate themselves to a project. Ikram’s Subie has yet to cross borders into neighboring countries that are filled with roads untraveled. I hope I can be part of one his adventures in the future.