Motorsport’s national body, the FMSCI, dropped the modified cars category from this year’s Indian National Rally Championship to make the sport affordable, says its President Vicky Chandhok.

“It’s better to take a step backward for the long-term growth of the sport,” said Chandhok on Friday. “The Group N+ is very expensive, we’re trying to make motorsport cheaper.”

The FMSCI President was responding to Asia Pacific star and national rally champion Gaurav Gill’s strong comment in The Hindu that the association’s move to remove the modified cars class was not a step in the right direction.

Chandhok also claimed the decision to remove the Group N+ category, which allows modified cars, was not taken in a hurry.

“Three years ago, we had a rally committee meeting in Coimbatore, which was also attended by MRF, where we decided that all cars will run under Group N specifications,” said Chandhok, a former National racing and rally star.

“Gaurav has no business to state that the FMSCI is not taking the sport forward…if it doesn’t suit him to run in FMSCI events, he can stay away from them,” he said.

Three of the four rounds of the National rally championship will be held in Karnataka this season with the opening round from September 21 to 23.

The championship has four classes including one — the Indian Rally Championship which will have FIA Group N (two-wheel and four-wheel drive cars) — which is open to foreign drivers from the Asia Zone but the IRC winner would not be the overall national championship (INRC) winner but just the victor of that category. Some of the rally drivers one spoke to, appeared unhappy with this rule.

“That’s like saying that a driver who is racing in F1, wants to win the F3 title too. It doesn’t work that way anywhere. The IRC is an FIA category.” explained Chandhok.

“But if an Indian wins the INRC and two or three IRC cars do not finish, then the INRC champion would be eligible for the overall IRC title as well,” he said.

Competitors and customers

The FMSCI President also said that the federation needs feedback to bring about changes.

“For me, every competitor is a customer of the federation, we expect our customers to give feedback. Without feedback we cannot make changes.”

Chandhok also suggested that a lot has been done to make the sport safer after the recent Mughal Rally in J & K where two competitors died in accidents. “We have suggested international norms for helmets…the ISI helmets do not conform to international standards,” he said.