Former Mahindra Racing rider Sarath Kumar (left) with the South Indian movie star of the same name (centre) and K Rajini. Photo Credit: Adrenna
Sometimes you see stuff in the realm of news and entertainment that seem a little too far-fetched. Like a South Indian movie star/politician/bodybuilder coming to the rescue of his namesake motorcycle racer!
Twenty-one-year-old Sarath Kumar had to drop out of the Italian Road Racing motorcycle championship where he was competing under the Mahindra Racing banner in order to try and prepare himself for a return to MotoGP.
Kumar had competed in the first three rounds of the 2011 season of the two-wheel equivalent of Formula 1 in the Moto3 category with Bangalore-based Ten10 Racing but a lack of funds and experience forced him to take a few steps back.
A fully paid up ride with Mahindra seemed like a way to prepare himself for a comeback but that was only until last July, when citing financial constraints on the part of Kumar, the carmakers who had ventured into motorcycles announced that the Chennai native would have to return to India and cut short his campaign despite a third place finish at the third round of the championship at Monza (venue of the Italian F1 Grand Prix).
Fast forward to Wednesday and Kumar is speaking to HT from Chennai where at a press conference he announced signing with Spanish-based Monlau Competicion for which Honda's latest MotoGP factory rider Marc Marquez drove on his way to the championship's top class.
And it's down to Sarath Kumar the movie star having heard about the troubles faced by his racing counterpart and helping him out to hunt for sponsors.
Kumar will ride in the Spanish Moto 3 Championship for the team astride a 250cc bike that is in many ways similar to the one Mahindra is fielding in the Moto 3 class of MotoGP this year.
When the subject came to his exit from Mahindra, Kumar wasn't particularly charitable.
"Basically Mahindra had financial issues when it came to supporting my program but they kept changing their story," Kumar told HT. "First they said they would give me two years time to settle in and get good results, then after my podium they said we need more good results.
"Then when I had to leave, they made up another story of me not being able to raise the money."
Having put it all behind him though, Kumar is eager to move forward with a ten race championship that promises a lot in terms of his growth as a racer.
"The best thing about the bike I'll ride is that it is a four-stroke with the same capacity as the one in the world Moto 3 class," Sarath said. "I know a lot more about four-stroke bikes than I do two-strokes like the 125cc machine I rode for Mahindra."
The "mandate" according to Kumar's manager and owner of Ten10 Racing Ramji Govidarajan is for Monlau to make him a champion.
It's not something that Kumar is taking for granted but with a little silver screen assistance, at least the 450,000 Euro all-inclusive season budget is a lot less of a worry.