The penultimate round of the JK Tyre Championship had us thinking about the racing and politics of course, but a more compelling story was worth telling.
The ingredients to a good weekend of racing were all there at the third and penultimate round of the JK Tyre Racing Championship at the Buddh Interational Circuit at Greater Noida.
Good crowds – more than half of the upper and lower tier of the grand stands were full – tight racing (especially in LGB Formula 4) as well as superbike racing; the latter going down particularly well with the packed crowd in the grand stands thanks to the Buddh circuit’s acoustics on the main straight.
The only thing missing, of course, was seeing the MRF backed series running their races on the same weekend, but to prevent any further frustration we will not delve into that topic yet again.
THE PLIGHT OF PRASAD
Instead we shall shift our focus to something that sounds just as frustrating, but has little to do with petty politics in Indian motorsport. I refer to the case of Vishnu Prasad, who has been racing not just in the FB02 class, but also LGB Formula 4 as well as in karting and has had to watch other drivers progress to racing beyond India while he struggles with sponsorship woes.
“It really gets you down sometimes…this whole business of trying to find sponsors,” Prasad told autoX looking decidedly despondent. “You always end up calling a company and they listen to your whole pitch and then say they will get back to you but they never call back.
“It’s worse if you email them as the few who do read the mail will say the proposal ‘sounds very interesting’ but then you never hear from them again!”
By this point though, Prasad has managed a wry smile on his face as well as a laugh as the good natured 21-year-old still manages to see the funny side of things.
But his face turns serious once more as talk shifts to what he can do next with his career. “I can’t be doing junior formulas like Masters in China or any other series in Asia at my age,” said Prasad. “If I have to go forward then it has to be either Formula Renault 2.0 or the BRDC Formula 4, which Arjun (Maini) took part in this year.”
Achieving that aim is easier said than done, of course, with budgets in BRDC F4 alone ranging from around Rs. 4 lakh to 7 lakh for a season depending on whether you compete as a privateer or with a professional team.
Beyond that of course, things get a lot scarier money wise and Prasad is hardly the kind of driver who comes from a very wealthy background.
Lack of funds meant having to give up on going to Europe to compete in the 2011 Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup after having won the Polo Cup in India. Even the casual fan of domestic motorsport would be correct in assuming that Prasad would have fared significantly better than Sailesh Bolisetti, who took his place due to being the runner-up.
THE ACTION ON TRACK
The lack of success of drivers who graduated to the Scirocco R Cup from India after Aditya Patel is one of the reasons why Volkswagen took the step of placing its Polo R Cup champion Rahil Noorani in a FB02 single seater so that he would be better prepared to take on racers in Europe who show up to a race weekend anything but unprepared.
It was a bit ironic to see Prasad, Noorani as well as Patel on the same FB02 grid at the BIC. Patel has been enjoying steady success in sports car racing with Audi’s customer teams in Europe so far and being a JK Tyre ‘prodigy’ both he and Armaan Ebrahim have been called into duty to race with the current crop of FB02 drivers to give them a benchmark to measure themselves.
Prasad gave a good account of himself by overcoming a drive-through penalty in the opening race of the weekend to win both races on Sunday ahead of Patel and Noorani and then Akhil Rabindra and Patel.
The going was a little tougher for Prasad in LGB F4 with Chittesh Mandody winning both races on Saturday and losing out to last year’s Toyota Etios Motor Racing champion Diljith by 0.329 seconds in the final race on Sunday.
TWO WHEEL TREAT
The intensely close scrap in the entertaining – yet crude and unsightly – F4 cars was topped off by the JK Superbike Cup that featured privateer enthusiasts who were literally itching to compete against each other after having ridden on trackdays at the FIA Grade 1 venue.
There is potential for the Supebike Cup to evolve into something more permanent for sure. It’s not like WSBK is coming anytime soon.