By Leslie Xavier
JK Tyre, one of the foremost promoters of motorsport in the country, and Volkswagen India have announced their 2013 racing programme, and enthusiasts and drivers have a lot to look forward to as the premier class in the championship would feature the Formula BMW cars, which was used in the JK Racing Asia Series the last two years. International racing promoters, EUROINTERNATIONAL, will provide technical support for the BMW cars, brought to India to be run in an exclusive series for domestic drivers.
The five-round JK Tyre Racing Championship (JKTRC) will also feature the Volkswagen Polo R Cup one-make races as well as the Formula LGB 4 championship. The first round will be held at Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore from July 19-21 and the second round (August 9-11) will be held at the Madras Motor Sports Trust race track in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai. The final two rounds of the championship will be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. The organisers are trying to stage the third round as a street race, with Srinagar being a possible venue.
“Our aim is to take motorsport to the masses. And that is why we are trying for a street race,” said Sanjay Sharma, head of JK Tyre Motorsports. “In 1997, when we started the JK Tyre national racing championship, that was the aim. And down the years, we have been successful in promoting the sport in the country. Karun Chandhok, Narain Karthikeyan came through our championships and reached Formula One, while all the young racers including Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim, who currently race abroad, have come up through our karting and racing programmes. But right now, we feel that we need to step up and provide our youngsters faster cars so that they are race-ready when they go abroad. Earlier, our boys including Narain and Karun had to first struggle—do the catch up act—before making a mark abroad as the cars in the national series were much slower. Now, with the introduction of Formula BMW cars, they get used to international racing standards closer to home and very affordable too.”
JK Tyre, in fact, is planning to give free rides to all its national champions, including the winners of the senior and junior karting championships as well as last year’s Formula LGB 4 champion. “Besides that, all the international racers, including the likes of Raj Bharath, will be given free drives, which is in line with our philosophy—which was always to promote Indian drivers,” added Sharma.
Till last year, JK Tyre was the promoters of the FMSCI’s (Indian motorsport federation’s) national championship. This year, the Federation has joined forces with MRF Tyres to run the championship, with their fast Formula 1600 and Formula 2000 cars. Perhaps that’s what prompted JK Tyre to rethink their racing programme, and, rather than go international and lose relevance in the national scheme of things, they decided to bring things closer to home. Whatever is the case, the upcoming Indian drivers end up winners as they get one more series to compete in, that too with good quality hardware.