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Indian motorsport in doldrums: Ex-FMSCI boss Vicky Chandhok

New Delhi: Former FMSCI chief Vicky Chandhok yesterday severely criticised the governing body's current regime, saying it has done little to promote Indian motorsport that now finds itself in a state of "doldrums".

Vicky Chandhok
Vicky Chandhok 

Chandhok said that the lack of stability and vision shown by Bharath Raj-led Federation of Motor Sports Club of India (FMSCI) is one of the main reasons why the sport is undergoing a period of stagnation, besides the absence of Indian Grand Prix from the Formula 1 calendar. "I just can't see any improvement in the last two years,
the sport has not grown at all. The fact that we have had two presidents in the last two years shows instability at the top," Chandhok, who was FMSCI president for seven years, told PTI in an interaction.

"The problem is lack of communication, not many people are aware of what motorsport activities are happening the country. The hype that motorsport desperately needs is missing. The absence of Formula 1 has also contributed to this period of stagnation," he said further. Chandhok's first stint at the FMSCI helm was from 2005 to 2007 before he was elected again in 2010. It was under his tenure that Formula 1 made its India debut in 2011, two years after which he decided to step down.

Substantiating his view that that the FMSCI is not doing enough at the moment, Chandhok said: "There were big strides being made by the previous regime. We had 14-15 people on various FIM and FIA Commissions (world bodies for two-wheel and four-wheel racing respectively). "We had a lot of interactions going on with international
community, relationship with international bodies (FIA and FIM) was at an all-time high.

Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. There have been deserving people, who have been replaced or they don't find a place on the FIA and FIM Commissions anymore. "There are still 11 people on the various commissions but we don't have anyone on the single seater commission, which is an important area for India," said the former racer of the national body that was recently re-recognised by the Sports Ministry.

Though FMSCI can't do much in bringing Formula 1 back to India as it is a matter between FOM and race promoters Jaypee Group, Chandhok feels it should have made more effort in bringing other international events to the country. Countering current president Bharath Raj's view that the federation activities are focussed on grassroots and road safety for now, Chandhok said international championships are are a must for sport's promotion.

"Grassroot level is very important no doubt. We have been saying this for the last 40 years. We must promote it but if you want the sport to grow, you definitely need big ticket events to come to India. "While the federation can't control the future of Formula 1 in India, it can surely focus on bringing some international events to India," said Chandhok, who himself is working on bringing the two-wheel Asian Road Racing Championship back to the country.

As the likes of JK Tyre and MRF continue to invest in domestic motorsport, no big company or auto manufacturer has offered support in the last two years, he said. "No addition has been made in the last two years. It is the same players as before, especially in cars. Amid the two-wheel makers, you have the likes of Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, TVS and KTM.

"One way FMSCI could have increased the manufacturer participation is by continuing with the Auto Conclave, an initiative which we started. Back then, we had a lot of manufacturers who were very positive about Indian motorsport. It was organised to have all of us under one-roof and discuss the opportunities. A forum like that needs continuity but we have not had that, nothing new has happened," rued Chandhok.

What is the way forward? "We surely need the money and sponsors. Sponsors determine motorsport unlike other sports. Motorsport is heavily dependent on finance. We need to get that for it to prosper," he concluded.

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