Opinion: Mahindra, MRF show manufacturers shouldn’t shy away from competition
If MRF, Mahindra and Hero can take on the best in the world, there's no reasons why manufacturers should shy away from competition in domestic championships.
The news about Gaurav Gill signing up for a partial campaign in WRC2 was encouraging in more ways than one. Not only India’s most revered rally driver was finally getting a shot in a world championship, an Indian tyre manufacturer was willing to test its products against those with far extensive motorsport backgrounds.
Yes, MRF isn’t completely new to manufacturing motorsport tyres - whether for racing or rallying - and its highly-successful run in Asia Pacific Rally Championship proves that it’s ready for the next step. But competing in a championship of WRC2 level shows how much faith it has in its R&D department.
Of course, MRF isn’t the first manufacturer from an automotive background to foray into international competition. Recently, Mahindra has been grabbing plenty of headlines in the the all-electric Formula E series, where it has scored three wins and several more podium finishes against rivals such as Audi, Renault and Jaguar.
Looking at MRF and Mahindra’s international programmes, one would think that Indian manufacturer don’t shy away from competition. However, that perception is quickly changed when one shifts it focus to India's domestic motor racing series.
One of the prime reasons India’s domestic championships fail to attract general public interest is lack of manufacturer competition. And since these championships cater to budding racers rather than the establishes ones, the drivers are simply not famous enough to lure crowds.
We’ve already written about the need for a DTM/Australian Supercars-style touring car championship that acts as an end in itself, but such a series would never see the light of day unless Indian manufacturers start to embrace competition.
Who would like to see Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai, two of the country’s biggest manufacturers, battle it out with their Balenos and i20s? Or perhaps, a Tata-Mahindra rivalry to prove who is the best homegrown manufacturer of all?
Maybe the federation should bring all manufacturers under one roof and initiative talks.
Motorsport Network partners with Senna writer Manish Pandey for Motorsport Heroes
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