“It’s nonsense and a silly thing (to do),” said Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) vice-president Vicky Chandhok on the decision some riders have made to pull out of the second round of the National two-wheeler racing championship.
Two-wheeler riders have long held that their sport hasn’t been as aggressively promoted as four-wheeler racing. The decision not to take part in the second round, scheduled to be held at the Irungattukottai track near here from June 6-8, was based on a lack of live television coverage of the Nationals, among other things.
Multiple-time National bike champion Rajini Krishnan has often argued that despite doing well in several international events and being the best in the country, his career hasn’t progressed, both monetarily and profile-wise. “I have remained in the same place,” he said.
Matters had reached a flashpoint early this year when drivers said they would boycott the first round if their demands for better organisation and promotion of the sport were not met. MMSC promised to address the riders’ grievances. But not satisfied with what was offered, many teams pulled out of the first round held on February 15-16.
With the deadline for entries for the second round fast approaching, some teams have joined the MMSC bandwagon.
“We are not happy but satisfied,” said P. Rajesh of Sparks Racing. “What we asked they’ve (MMSC) done. MMSC has promised television coverage (not live) on a Tamil channel and on Neo Sports.”
Rajesh further said MMSC has promised to give new set of tyres after two rounds for a single entry and better food and increased guest passes for each team. Performance Racing’s K. Manivannan, too, said his team will be racing in the second round primarily to fulfil the commitments to its sponsor, JS Engineering (New Delhi).
Manivannan listed out several offers made by MMSC to all the teams such as the 10 per cent reduction in the entry fee for an individual and team entry, 50 per cent reduction in pay-and-practice sessions, among other things. “All these were made before the first round,” said Manivannan.
Moto Rev director Bala Vijay, Rajini, Moto 46 worx’s Ameen Nawaz Khan and Pro-Lap racing’s E. Ganesh have decided, in principle, not to take part in the second round.
Bala Vijay insisted that the offers made now will not have a big impact. He said after being in the sport for a long time, the returns have been minimal and the sport hasn’t witnessed a change for the better. “We have not been given the platform to exhibit our talent. For the sport to flourish, live TV coverage is a must,” he said.
Ganesh concurred. “Whenever we approach sponsors, they ask where’s the coverage and we don’t have any answers,” he said. Basically, Ganesh said there is no respect for two-wheeler riders.
Chandhok, however, said MMSC has met all the demands of the riders given its limitations. “We don’t have big ad expenditure. Ours is a non-profit organisation. We do not have budgets for advertisements at least for the next two years,” he said.
The National Federation, FMSCI, said it will wait-and-watch as to how the situation unfolds before taking any decision. “If there is poor participation from the teams even in the second round, we will come down hard (on the organisers),” said Akbar Ebrahim, Member and Co-ordinator, two-wheeler racing commission.