BENGALURU : It Has only been around three months since Champions Group won the bid to become the promoters of FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship for the next three years. And the three-year period is expected to be a pivotal phase for the growth of rallyists in the country with the group looking to make the sport popular and ensure its growth. The prize money has increased for the 2019 edition and the inclusion of foreign drivers has made it more interesting.
Having been involved in the sport as a team for more than ten years, the promoters have ideas to popularise the sport. But there are challenges to the vision. With the ongoing general elections, the current season will not begin till June 28 (in Chennai). In their first season as promoters, Champions Group chairman, Subhakar Rao Surapaneni, has ensured that the rally spreads to different parts of the country, away from the southern bastion.
The third round of the INRC will be held in Rajasthan. The other venues are Coimbatore, Kochi, Bengaluru and Chikmagalur. Rao has also set his eyes on some bigger venues for the next season.
“We want to spread it to as many different parts of the country as possible as the rallyists participating in the INRC are from all over India too. Next year, we are going to have eight rounds with eight venues, which will include big cities like Delhi and Mumbai. For this season, it will travel to Rajasthan,” Rao said.
For now, they have managed to rope in around 40 corporate teams. Roping in, who can afford to spend, will only help the sport. More money can lead to better cars, equipment and drivers.
“Now that we are promoters of the event, we have realised that a lot of corporates would like to have their own teams. You see a lot of leagues around the world, where corporates own teams — look at the Indian Premier League. Here, you have the opportunity and in the process, you can encourage young drivers. Our goal is also to encourage a lot of corporates, lots of teams,” Rao said.
The season will also witness participation by foreign rally drivers. Rallyists from UAE and Australia among other countries have already confirmed their participation. Besides that, the promoters are also looking at having a live broadcast of the races. “The grander success will eventually be getting as much TV time as Formula One does and to get audiences from across India tuning in. However, that is a long-term target,” Rao signed off.