Indian Grand Prix: 'Our race is absolutely on track'
The Kazakh Grand Prix was cancelled last month but having got all the clearances, India are on schedule
‘Kazakhstan and India to make MotoGP debut in 2023’ read the headlines in September last year when the motorcycle racing world championship announced its calendar for 2023.
Of the two races the Kazakh Grand Prix was cancelled last month due to “ongoing homologation works, paired with current global operational challenges”, automatically driving the eyeballs of critics towards the Grand Prix of India, touted as Bharat GP, scheduled for September 24.
The Kazakhstan announcement also doesn’t bode well for India especially given that international motorsports events don’t have a great history in India with the unceremonious exit of Formula One from the country exactly a decade ago.
But Fairstreet Sports — the Noida-based promoters of Bharat GP — are not worried about the race that will be held at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida. On the contrary, they are well on their way to get necessary clearances, the most important of which coming recently when the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) issued the all-important No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the organisers to host the race. The NOC was issued on the condition that Fairstreet will seek all approvals and make all the arrangements.
Approvals and clearances
“Our race is absolutely on track. We have got the approval from the Uttar Pradesh government, YEIDA has also given us the NOC. We have to inform the GST (Goods and Services Tax) department when ticketing opens. They have a process which we must follow. Approvals from police, fire safety and NGT (National Green Tribunal) will follow GST," said Fairstreet Sports Chief Operating Officer Pushkar Nath Srivastava.
Fairstreet had signed a seven-year deal with Dorna Sports – the commercial rights holder of MotoGP — last year to bring the world’s oldest established motorsports world championship to India, the ticketing partner for which will be announced next week.
With the NOC in hand, Fairstreet will soon start work on the track which has largely been lying unused apart from domestic events. The changes that need to be made have to be approved by the international motorcycling federation (FIM), the international automobile federation (FIA) and designer of the circuit Hermann Tilke.
The alterations should be such that the original Formula One track is not impacted and that restoring to the original design does not take time in case F1 is to return. Fairstreet have hired a United Kingdom-based design agency who specialise in MotoGP circuits to adapt the F1 circuit to suit motorcycle racing, ensure whatever alterations are introduced are approved by the track commissions of both FIA, FIM and Tilke. Significantly, FIA and FIM have already given the go ahead while consultations are ongoing with Tilke. The expenses are all being borne by the promoters.
“We have narrowed down the restoration cost. It is like Silverstone which hosts both F1 and MotoGP. There are very few circuits which host both. BIC will hold both FIM and FIA certification," said Srivastava.
Fairstreet and the design agency are currently working out details of the vendor and where to source materials like asphalt, synthetic paint (both on-and-off track), gravel, machinery, equipment etc.
Alterations to the circuit
Some of the changes that need to be introduced are like Turn 1 where the impact area is relatively small as it was designed for F1 cars. The area needs to be widened with more gravel (for reducing speed) as it is a major overtaking point. More tyre barriers (for lessening G-forces on impact) will also be introduced as a safety measure for riders.
“We will be starting in another 10-15 days. The changes are minor and can be made in a month’s time. There are certain areas that need resurfacing like a 500m stretch before the parabola. Then there is some paint work too which is different for F1 and MotoGP,” said Srivastava.
While the organisers will also be calling in some key and experienced marshals from abroad, Fairstreet have requested the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) to provide marshals for the September 22-24 event. The promoters are already in touch with marshals from Malaysia and Thailand.
Jaypee Group, the builders of the circuit, will help provide the electronics needed to conduct the race.
The organisers had also pledged to invest Rs.472 crore over two years and generate around 400 jobs. Fairstreet are about to open their recruitment programme in which they will hire from local areas for marshalling, security, transport, housekeeping, communication etc.
The promoters will be requesting a single window entry to bring in all equipment, including the bikes, with at least 10,000 foreign nationals due to visit during the September weekend which includes MotoGP personnel, foreign media, fans etc.