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25 & counting: JK Tyre Motorsport’s endless drive to steer Indians to success  

Express News Service

When the JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship was held for the first time in 1997, Hari Singh was still one of the most decorated rally drivers in the country. Twenty five years on, as the silver jubilee season got underway in Coimbatore on Saturday, Singh — the head of operations at JK Tyre Motorsport — feels the fact that the championship has happened every single year, even through the pandemic, in itself is a great thing.

“It’s the dream that we had in the last couple of years,” Singh told this daily. “We’ve been able to have the event through the toughest of times, strictest of rules with Covid conditions and of course, Covid has set us back. It’s going to take a little while before we get back to full steam. It’s unfortunate that the 25th year, as of now, is running only with the Indian championships, but we are hoping by the end of the year, by December, we have something lined up as a finale.”

Over the last couple of decades, JK Tyre has been among the household names when it comes to racing in India, producing and elevating Indian racing drivers to the international stage — Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, Gaurav Gill, Armaan Ebrahim, to name a few. Singh, who has been organising the event for over a decade now, says that it has been their key motto. “We want to give them enough confidence and build them so that, it is a tough world out there, it’s not just the driving, but the financial part. It’s a challenge for them to excel internationally, but we are doing what we need to do and help them,” he said.

Singh credits Raghupati Singhania, Chairman of JK Tyre Motorsport, and Sanjay Sharma, Head-Motorsports, for the vision they have set and work that has gone behind the scenes. “We are just foot soldiers who are actually doing the job. It’s a lot of thinking and planning that went behind for the championship to run. We have a great team. In JK tyre, we are all ex-racers or rally riders. We drive the championship with passion for the people who are behind the wheel and not as the person behind the desk or giving decisions otherwise.”

One of the key points in their vision is to change the notion that Motorsport is an elite sport. While learning the tricks of the trade from all those they’ve been associated with such as VW motorsport or Formula One, Singh believes that they are doing their best to make it a level-playing field at the championships. He feels that the biggest barrier that was broken since the championships began 25 years ago is how Indian racers are entering the international scene.

“Narain did it first, the youngsters now have an avenue to get there and that is what we are talking about. Earlier, the exposure and experience were not there. Over the years, that is what the championship has given to these kids. That, I think, is a very important thing. When I went to Australia for the WRC in 1995, I was one of the first. I was quite nervous about the whole thing. Now, an Indian can go and compete with ease. That’s the whole message that has gone from the championship.”

Day 1 Provisional Race Results

JK Tyre Novice Cup: Race 1: 1 Kyle Kumaran (DTS Racing)– 13:38.548; 2. Joel Joseph (DTS Racing) – 13:39.905; 3. Dhruvh Goswami (MSport) – 13:40.400. Race 2: 1 Kyle Kumaran (DTS Racing) – 15:17.955; 2. Vinith Kumar (DTS Racing)- 15:18.554; 3. Aadithya Parasuram (Hasten Performance) – 15:19.320.

LGB Formula 4: (Race 1): 1. Arya Singh (Dark Don Racing) – 23:44.955. 2. Tijil Rao (Dark Don Racing)– 23:45.498. 3. Ashwin Datta (Dark Don Racing) – 23:46.121.

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