Motorsport in India has been stagnant over the past decade and country’s first Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan hopes the upcoming X1 Racing League provides a much-needed boost to the struggling sport.
“Motorsport in India has been stagnant over the last 10-15 years. There are some one-make series which are around… This (X1) could be one of the first steps and you know there are experienced drivers in the league and they can learn from experienced drivers before they start going international,” the 42-year-old told PTI in an interaction.
“…this X1 league will revolutionize motorsport the way we see it in India. And it has a mix of local and international drivers and young drivers will be exposed at a very early stage on what to expect before going abroad,” said, Karthikeyan who owns the Chennai team, added.
He said if the package was right, the league could do what Formula One has not done to India.
“See…if the package is put together right, we all believe it is and what F1 has not done to India, this should be doing it. It should help grassroots levels of motorsports grow.
“Taking the sport to the masses is another objective. So…with these two in mind, the package has been created and we hope to deliver,” he added.
Former F1 drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Alex Yoong, some women drivers including Alice Powell, Indian rally ace Gaurav Gill apart from Karthikeyan will be participating in the league which is slated to start from November 30 at the Buddh International Circuit, New Delhi.
The second leg will be held at the MMRT race track near Chennai on December 7 and 8.
The oimbatore-based Karthikeyan, who is presently taking part in the Super GT Series in Japan, also said this (X1 League) is a format where the youngsters don’t have to worry about getting sponsors adding “for them, there is no pressure other than to perform.”
Asked if the country’s top rally driver Gaurav Gill getting the Arjuna award would provide an impetus to motorsport, he said any award was welcome and hoped the sport gets recognized more often.
“Yeah…for sure. Any award for motorsport is always welcome. I got the Padma Shri in 2010 and now Gill has been bestowed with the Arjuna award. I hope motorsport gets recognized and more awards are forthcoming,” he added.
About his own career, Karthikeyan said he was enjoying racing as much as he did when he started.
“I have been racing for 27 years and I like it as much as when I started it,” he signed off.