Volkswagen Motorsport India is parting ways with the tyre partner and chief sponsor that brought them to India in the hope of an expanded footprint in domestic motorsport.
Volkswagen Motorsport India has confirmed that, starting from this year, it will field its one-make Vento Cup touring car series under the Madras Motor Sport (MMSC) banner, which runs the FMSCI National Racing Championship (NRC) – after concluding a six year partnership with JK Tyre.
This would also mean a switch to MRF racing tyres, from the JK Tyre rubber that’s been used for both iterations of the Polo Cup and Vento Cup since it started in 2010.
JK Tyre have run their racing championship separate to the NRC since 2013, prior to which they were the rights holders since its first edition in 1997 to 2012. JK Tyre’s motorsport boss Sanjay Sharma told AutoX that there are plans to fill the vacancy left by the Vento Cup, but has not yet confirmed which motorsport discipline it would be.
A GLOBAL PLATFORM?
It’s believed that one of the factors that attracted Volkswagen to the NRC banner was the possibility of putting the Vento Cup on a more global platform via the MRF Challenge, which holds rounds in Qatar, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, along with one at the Madras Motor Sport Track (MMST), near Chennai.
Speaking to AutoX, VW Motorsport India boss Sirish Vissa stated that it was the intention of the German auto major to work with as many partners as possible on the Indian motorsport landscape.
Tyre performance has been speculated as a reason for VW’s switch as well, although Vissa did not offer a comment on it.
Volkswagen has directly partnered with MRF in India through its customer program in the Indian Rally Championship, as well as through private racing outfit Tiger Sports, which fielded a race-spec, 180bhp – same output as stated for the Vento Cup car – Vento in the Indian Touring Car Championship in 2013.
Vissa stated that it is the intention of VW to have the Vento Cup race at all three of the race circuits currently used in India. However, the NRC has skipped racing at Greater Noida’s Buddh International Circuit entirely this year – a circuit that VW has had access to on account of their previous partnership with JK Tyre.
VW will be keen to retain access to the facility, while continuing to race at Coimbatore’s Kari Motors Speedway and returning to the MMST – where it had not raced since JK Tyre’s championship stopped hosting a round there from 2013.
As for JK Tyre themselves, their racing disciplines will have national championship status this year along with the MMSC run series. Using this as a hook could lead to them filling the void left by the departure of VW.