The successful staging of a Formula One Grand Prix may have raised the profile of the country. However, the presence of an F1 track in the country has done nothing to raise the profile of who should ideally have been the main beneficiaries - India's up-and-coming motorsport talent.
The final round of the National Racing Championship (JK-NRC) and its support event, the Vokswagen Polo-R Cup, in addition to the JK Racing Asia Series (JKRAS), a support race in last month's F1 GP, were slated to be held at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in the final weekend of November.
However, the NRC has now been shifted to the Irungattukottai Race Track, at Sriperumbudur near Chennai, after the circuit's owners Jaypee Sports Limited (JPSI) decided to close the track for 'maintenance'.
The Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI) has conveyed the news to the flabbergasted series promoters. FMSCI president Vicky Chandhok said, "The circuit owners have decided to upgrade certain facilities at the track and it will be shut till March."
A source close to the FMSCI said, "Vicky Chandhok, in addition to being the FMSCI president, is also a consultant with the BIC. Didn't he know that the circuit was going to be renovated before ratifying the calendar?"
JPSI's vice-president for corporate communications, Askari Zaidi, confirmed that the circuit will be closed for renovations, mostly external landscaping around the venue, and not for much work in the circuit per se.
Volkswagen-India's motorsport head Prithviraj Siddappa said the FMSCI must get its act together, especially as there is talk of international auto majors (Toyota and Audi) looking to enter the Indian motorsport scene. "The whole episode smacks of official apathy. The FMSCI must work more efficiently to promote motorsport in the country." The real losers will be the drivers and the promoters of the series - JK Tyres. After the last round of the JK Racing Asia Series, the cars of all the drivers were not transferred as the next round was going to be held here. Now they will have to pay extra to get the cars transported to another venue.
JK motorsport head Sanjay Sharma expressed his displeasure over the move. "It's disappointing for the drivers, but life still goes on," he said.
India may have an F1 circuit, but with management like this that's hardly a boon for India's motorsport aspirants.