A restrictive technical regulation may force Mahindra to sit out the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare set to kick off in August, as regulations prohibit any vehicle over 1600cc capacity from taking part in country’s third biggest rally-raid, after Raid De Himalaya and Desert Storm.
According to article 3.4.7 of the Supplementary Regulations draft, a copy of which has been obtained by Autocar India, the entire event will be restricted to only two classes – one consisting of vehicles from 1001cc – 1400cc and the second of 1401cc – 1600cc capacity cars.
Maruti Suzuki is the title sponsor of all three rally raid competitions held in the country.
Event organiser Jaidass Menon, of Motorsport Inc. commented, “During the past years we have seen that the event doesn’t attract too many entries in the Ultimate Class as people think that they travel so far only to be beaten by competitors in bigger cars. This discourages the entrants so we put this rule in place to ensure that we can get more participation.”
Despite its relatively recent foray into motorsport, Mahindra has been enjoying success in the rally-raid as well as special stage rallying. Gaurav Gill took top laurels for Mahindra at the 2012 edition of the Dakshin Dare while Sunny Sidhu won the Desert Storm with a 22-minute margin earlier in March this year, both drivers piloting the XUV 500.
Gill also dominated the 2013 Indian Rally Championship season, despite being not classified as an entrant due to technical regulations.
“We are still investigating and figuring out what the ramifications are for the sport. As of now of course, Mahindra cannot participate. If it had to come to this, it is better to make it a single-manufacturer event and be done with it”, remarked Bijoy Kumar, Team Principal of Mahindra Adventure.
The cubic capacity regulations mean that apart from the Mahindra XUV 500, Maruti Suzuki Vitara and the Mitsubishi Cedia, several models from Maruti’s stable including the Gypsy, Esteem and Baleno along with the Volkswagen Polo will end up being in the fray for top honours in the event which is set to traverse 2200 kilometres from Bangalore to Goa this year.
The governing body of Indian Motorsport, FMSCI, also needs to step in to ensure that the regulations of individual events and genres are framed to encourage competition among manufacturers and competitors alike. The Federation should lay down the default category classification even for events which aren’t a part of the national championship to avoid such situations in the future.