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The Great Visa Game

Sailesh Bolisetti had just about settled in, trying to come to terms with the disastrous Brands Hatch race. Snetterton was coming up and it gave the Lotus GT team another chance to get back into the championship game.

It was when I asked him to write an update for the blog that he broke the news. I stared at his email, unbelieving. His visa to race at Snetterton had been rejected. What next, I asked him. I will apply again, he said. But things aren’t always that simple. On August 1, Sailesh issued a press release, which said that a “bureaucratic setback in the form of a rejected UK visa application” would not allow him to race at the Snetterton circuit.

Champagne on ice: Sailesh (left) and Phil (right) at their first race in Oulton Park. Picture courtesy Sailesh Bolisetti

If you have been following him (on this blog and otherwise), you will know that the Lotus Sport UK, Phil Glew and Sailesh have had a brilliant run in the championship so far – barring of course, their races at Brands Hatch and Rockingham.

So, news that his visa had been declined was “unfathomable”. “They told that they were aware that I had been visiting UK on a regular basis and was racing for Lotus Sport UK, so the visa was rejected since there was a higher chance that I would stay back there (United Kingdom)! I couldn’t believe it to begin with, and despite providing them with details about our family business in India, and lack of any friends or relatives in UK – they paid no heed to my statements,” Sailesh said.

The young racer from Southern India reapplied the same day. There were several visits to the British Embassy and requests from the team itself. Requests for interviews and appointments went unheard, and faxes from Lotus, unanswered. Finally, the team withdrew its entry from the Snetterton round. “It is quite disheartening. The run of bad luck doesn’t seem to be ending after the promising start we had to the season”, he said. “I tried my best to get in touch with the British Embassy, but there seemed to be no way to meet anyone without an appointment, and strangely enough there is no way to get an appointment either”, he added.

There are two more races to go, at Silverstone and Donington Park, but the championship is out of reach. “We know we can’t win the championship now, so my only aim is to do the remaining two rounds at Silverstone and Donington Park and get as much track time under my belt as possible. Silverstone is a three-hour race which I had been looking forward to since the start of the season, so it would be a shame to miss it having come this far”, Sailesh said.

And what of that elusive visa? No news so far. All’s quiet at the British Embassy.

Keep your fingers crossed folks! We want to see Sailesh and Phil Glew race again.

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Categorised in: BritishGT, Four Wheels Or More

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