Indian motorsport ASN, FMSCI has awarded the national championship rights for the next three seasons, with events held by rival tyre makers JK and MRF both being recognised as national championships.
Traditionally, national championship status has been awarded on an organiser-basis – with only a single championship bearing the national championship moniker at all times. Since 2013, the MMSC-ran the National Racing Championship featuring MRF F1600 cars along with touring cars while JK ran a separate series featuring Formula BMW cars along with Volkswagen’s one-make championship (Polo/Vento) along with the ageing LGB F4.
However, the rule of awarding national championship status on basis of the organiser was revised last year with the new statute allowing national championships being awarded based on individual categories. Therefore, organising clubs could bid for hosting rights of individual racing series instead of bidding to host the entire event.
Under this new arrangement, JK was able to successfully bid for the national championship status for its JK FB-02 series (Formula BMW) and the Formula LGB F4, while MMSC bagged the bids for MRF Formula 1600, Volkswagen Vento Cup, Touring Cars, Junior Touring Cars, Super Stock Cars and F-LGB1300 (for junior drivers only) in the four-wheeler category. All MMSC categories will run on MRF tyres.
Allowing multiple series to have national championship status is certain to prove detrimental for the sport, with similarly-specced machinery and categories vying for the same set of drivers and thus eventually cannibalising each other’s grids. For example – Formula 1600 and Formula BMW are in the same ballpark in terms of performance and are the ideal step up from karting. With motorsport still being a nascent in terms of exposure and knowledge, it will further confuse young drivers on which championships to participate in.
Out of the two, the MRF series certainly has an edge with the recently announced ‘Road to Indy’ programme which would allow a talented driver to progress from the MMSC F-LGB 1300 series all the way up to Indycar. JK on the other hand has a strong karting program and a collaboration with MRF to run in a unified championship to allow karters a real chance to progress up the racing ladder instead of languishing in the realms of national racing, would have been a win-win situation for everyone.
As revealed earlier by Autocar India, Volkswagen has also decided to part ways with JK and join the red camp, with the latter offering a better racing environment, higher technical knowhow due to involvement across several motorsport disciplines and access to all three racing facilities in India along with an option for international venues via the F2000 series cited as the compelling points in favour of MRF.