STUNNING SHOW

Riccardo Moretti...four wins.-

When Mahindra Racing made its foray into motorcycle Grand Prix last year, not many — at least in India — would have given the fledgling team even a ghost of a chance of surviving in the rough and tumble world of high-speed road racing. But the Indian outfit — the first and the only team from the country in the sport — didn’t merely survive in this highly competitive international arena; it shook the detractors out of their false sense of incertitude arising out of plain cynicism with a stunning performance in the 125cc class of the FIM MotoGP World Motorcycle Racing Championship.

The performance of Marcel Schrotter (15th overall in Rider’s Championship) and Danny Webb (19th), might have been far from momentous in 2011, but they helped Mahindra Racing finish third in the Constructor’s Championship for the 125cc class, which was in its farewell year last year. (The all new Moto3 class replaced the 125cc class in 2012.). And more importantly, Mahindra Racing captured the imagination of the people, especially the millions of fans on its Facebook page.

This year, Mahindra Racing performed even better, winning the Constructor’s Championship on debut in the 125GP class of the Italian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (CIV) with 176 points. It beat Aprilla, one of the top-ranked teams in world motorcycle racing, by 14 points.

The manner in which the Indian factory outfit (the bikes used by its riders are completely built by Mahindra, including the engine and chassis) finished on top in the Italian championship leaves no doubt that Mahindra Racing is capable of extending its marvellous run in the Moto3 class of the World Championship next season.

Six victories including three double-podium finishes in the eight rounds of the Italian championship by a team in its very first year on the circuit is nothing short of the extraordinary.

“Winning a highly competitive event like the Italian National Motorcycle Racing Championship is a historic achievement for Mahindra Racing and Indian motorsport. Our victory marks a big step forward for the team. The year wasn’t all easy but we remained determined and committed and are thrilled with the results,” said the CEO of Mahindra Racing, Mufaddal Choonia.

Of these six victories, four were achieved by Mahindra Racing’s premier rider Riccardo Moretti.

The 27-year-old Italian, who had to give up racing following a serious accident at the age of 13, but bounced back after a three-year break, won two races at Mugello and one each at Imola and Misano before finishing third in the seventh round at Misano.

He stood second overall with 116 points, 30 behind champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta of Italy.

The other Mahindra Racing rider, Miroslav Popov proved to be an ideal foil for Moretti. The 17-year-old Czech reeled in a strong performance in the closing stages of the CIV, winning the penultimate round at Misano and then leading team-mate Lukas Trautmann of Austria to a 1-2 finish in the final race at Vallelunga.

However, it wasn’t all easy for Mahindra Racing as the manner of its triumph might suggest. The team had to contend with the departure of Sarath Kumar midway through the season for personal reasons.

The Indian though contributed to his team’s cause by scoring 53 points in four races.

Mahindra Racing’s success, according to Choonia, meant that the team despite being new to the circuit has got its working, strategy and packaging right. So, it’s no surprise that the team is already geared up for 2013.

G. Raghunath