Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Naren to be the first Indian driver at WRC

Indiaray into motorsport. It all began with Vijay Mallya’s introduction of Force India F1 onto the Formula 1 scene. Force India F1 has no Indian drivers lined up for the current season but the team at least has India in its name. Spice Group’s take over of the Super Aguri F1 team, could possibly see an Indian driver in form of Narain Karthikeyan, but an oil and gas company from Chennai called Sidvin, has gone one step ahead, as they introduced the first Indian team for the 2008 FIA Production World Rally Championships but more importantly — with an Indian driver.

Naren Kumar (left) and Tommi Makinen in Mumbai

Six time national rally champion Naren Kumar (A Kamma guy from Coimbatore) is all set to be the first Indian to race in the world motor rally scene when he debuts for Team Sidvin India in June at Acropolis in Greece. The Coimbatore-based Kumar, will be receive technical and vehicle support from four-time world rally champion Tommi Makinen’s Racity Oy Limited.

We will support Naren in all possible ways, and I am sure we are heading for some exciting times. It’s good to be involved with India. I hope in future more young drivers come up for the rally,” said Makinen.

Motorsports Association of India’s president Nazir Hoosein hailed Kumar’s achievement as a red-letter day for Indian motorsports but he said that it’s going to be tough for Kumar. Hossein also mentioned that Rally racing in different than circuit racing.

Tough Task ahead

“It’s going to be a tough task for Naren who has to work extremely hard and there is no place for errors in Rally racing, which is tougher than circuit racing. A rally race driver can drive in circuit race but it’s way too difficult the other way around,” said Hoosein.

Kumar believes the four month period is good enough to prepare for him to prepare and with a good support team, he believes he can definitely do a good job.

A big leap

“It’s a big leap from what we have done before. I am backed by a fantastic a sponsor and Makinen and his team who have probably built the best rally car,” said Kumar, who has won 36 rallies in his career including an Asian zonal championship. Kumar would be driving a Subaru Group N Rally championship car for the first time. On the possibility of World Rally Championship in India, Hoosein added, “Rallying requitres a good infrastructure, we can definitely do it with a good support. FI is keen about it, but don’t know how India is prepared.”

If things go in favour of India, then this year there is a possibility of seeing both the Coimbatore based drivers (Kumar and Karthikeyan, both are Kammas) racing at the world level in Indian cars.
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