In a surprising announcement, a new motorsports league, the X1 Racing League, is set to make its debut in India.
The city-based competition has been launched by racing drivers themselves – Armaan Ebrahim, who has competed in the A1 Grand Prix, along with podium finishes in many other championships, and Aditya Patel, who has raced for Audi India Motorsport and who memorably lost out on winning the Blancpain GT Series Asia 2017 by a single point. Their aims for this new racing league make for interesting reading.
Each team (that is, each city’s team) will have two drivers, as is usual practice in motorsport events. What is unusual however is, making it mandatory for each team to have one female driver, one Indian international (AKA established) driver and one Indian domestic (AKA upcoming driver), apart from one foreign driver. Also, while the series will run through the whole year, the ‘main event’ will be held over four weeks. As of now, the plan is to have eight teams, and have races over the weekend; the races themselves will be held in race tracks (like the Buddh International Circuit) and on street circuits (maybe the Western Express Highway? No one knows where)
This event has also received the support of the body governing motorsports in India, the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI). It is expected to kick off in 2019.
Motorsports & India
India has had a sort of love-hate relationship with motorsports. While many have attempted to make their mark in the various competitions involved, motorsports burst into the public imagination when Narain Kartikeyan signed up for team Jordan in the Formula 1 championship. However, the team being one of the last placed ones, he was unable to make much of an impact; he had to settle for being a test driver in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He was later joined by Karun Chandok, who competed for HRT Racing, again one of the last placed teams, in 2010. Thus, the first Formula 1 race in India & South Asia (at the Buddh International Circuit, Uttar Pradesh) saw 2 Indian drivers in separate teams, though only Narain Kartikeyan competed on raceday.
Strangely, none of them were a part of the Indian team on the grid. In 2007, a consortium led by Vijay Mallya & another Dutch businessman bought a team, and renamed it Force India. Of course, with the financial troubles he faced, Mr. Mallya sold his stake to Sahara in 2011. In terms of performances, Force India is now firmly a mid-level team, making its way from the bottom to finishing between 4th & 6th position in the last 6 seasons.
In other competitions, Mahindra entered motorcycle racing in the 125cc category of Moto3 in 2011, and saw some creeditable performances throughout; 2017 was its last season, with Mahindra now shifting its focus to Formula E, a competition for electric race cars.