Suzuki’s Gixxer Cup and the Red Bull Road to Rookies Cup’s inclusion in the JK Tyre racing banner is a new chapter for both.
With JK Tyre’s association with Volkswagen Motorsport India – that had been first discussed and negotiated as far back as 2008 – ending last year, the hunt was on to tie up with a major automotive company to give its National Racing Championship the sheen that had been lost in 2016.
While names like Renault had been thrown into the mix, it ultimately came down to a two-way street of JK Tyre as a company expanding into making two-wheel tyres and Suzuki India wanting a tried and tested marketing platform.
While Suzuki bikes in India, as yet, do not use JK Tyre products, the company’s representatives are hoping things go down that route so that the motorsport association has a direct connection to the road as well.
Along with its Gixxer Cup, that used to run in association with the MMSC – and on MRF rubber – Suzuki also ran the Red Bull Road to Rookies Cup. The latter acts as a feeder to the Red Bull Rookies Cup races that are held on MotoGP weekends and serve as window shopping, in effect, for teams looking out for talent in Moto3.
As of yet, the age at which road racing bikers in India get their start is much higher than their European, American and Japanese counterparts. The karting equivalent of bikes – mini motos – serve as a platform for racers under the age of ten while racers in India still push too close to 20 for the purpose of getting an early start.
It is hoped that such equipment makes its way to India soon as two-wheel manufacturers look to cash in on the burgeoning interest in the segment in India, a country where two-wheelers still easily outnumber passenger cars.
In the meantime, both JK Tyre and Suzuki are committed to increasing participation as much as possible and for that purpose had conducted trials in various cities around the country.
The Road to Rookies Cup, introduced last season saw an increased number of participants this year, especially from the North-East region. From among these skilled young participants, a rider will be chosen to represent India at the Red Bull Rookie Cup - Road to MotoGP in Spain.
Both the races of The Red Bull Road to Rookies Cup races were won by Sri Lankan sensation Jaden Gunawardena. Jaden comfortably won the first round, beating the Mizoram duo of Lalhruaizela and Lalnunsanga, who secured the 2nd and 3rd place in the podium respectively. He had to fight harder for the second round, eventually outriding Varoon S of Chennai and Lalhruaizela of Mizoram. The battle to secure the second place in the podium was also a thrilling finish with Lalhruaizela falling short of Varoon S by a few hundredths of a second.
Joseph Mathew continued his good run from his last Gixxer Cup by securing the highest podium in both the races. The second position of the first race was won by Sanjeev Mhatre. The third spot was a close encounter between two Mizoram riders, Lalmawipuia and Malsawmdawngliana, with the former emerging victorious in the end.
The second race saw four riders battling it out through the entire ten laps. The positions were continuously changing right down to the finish line with Joseph Matthew finally clinching victory from Malsawmdawngliana and Lalmawipuia respectively within a gap of 0.7 seconds between the three riders.
The Gixxer Cup and Road to Rookies Cup will return to the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore for Round 2 in August. There will be 4 rounds of the Suzuki Gixxer Cup from July to November held at the Kari Motor Speedway the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.