‘We have got most things right’

ON THE PODIUM... Mufaddal Choonia with Lukas Trautmann (left) and Miroslav Popov.-ON THE PODIUM... Mufaddal Choonia with Lukas Trautmann (left) and Miroslav Popov.

Mahindra Racing’s CEO, Mufaddal Choonia, throws light on his side’s success and what it really means to the team, in this chat with G. Raghunath.

At the helm of Mahindra Racing’s success is its CEO, Mufaddal Choonia. He has not only been instrumental in getting his team to participate in the international motorcycle Grand Prix racing, but has also given it the right direction. For a young team as this, winning the Constructor’s title in the Italian Motorcycle Racing Championship is no mean achievement.

Choonia throws light on Mahindra Racing’s success and what it really means to the team.

Question: Winning the Constructors’ Championship — what does it mean to Mahindra Racing?

Answer: This victory is a historic achievement for Mahindra Racing and Indian motorsport. The Italian Motorcycle Racing Championship (CIV) is one of the toughest national track competitions in the world, staged on Italy’s best race tracks with intense competition. The championship sees more than 300 top riders participating every year. The CIV has long been the breeding ground for the MotoGP World Championship and renowned former riders like Valentino Rossi, Giacomo Agostini, Marco Melandri, Manuel Poggiali and many more have come through this event. Our success at such international motorsports events is strengthening the Mahindra brand globally.

As the first, and still the only team, from India in motorcycle Grand Prix racing, what were the problems Mahindra Racing had to face?

Being the first and only team from India to compete in Motorcycle Grand Prix racing naturally puts the pressure of expectations on the team. The expectations of more than half a million fans on our official Facebook page who want to see their team win all the time! We entered CIV this year with bikes that were built completely by Mahindra. Competitive International racing requires rigorous testing of bikes at very high performance levels. For a team to be able to do all this in its debut year and then go on to win the Constructors’ Championship means that we have got most things right. We now look forward to the 2013 season.

Do you see many more Indian teams joining in?

We would love to see that happen. It would be absolutely thrilling to see more teams from India join us in motorsports at the world stage.

In terms of motorcycle Grand Prix racing, does India have the talent?

In a country of more than 1.2 billion people, we feel sure that there ought to be the requisite talent. But currently, European countries like Spain, Italy and Germany produce the best riders in the world. We feel that there is still some progress which needs to be made to put an Indian rider on the world stage at the highest level of competitive motorsports.

In Formula One, people have pointed to the fact that Force India (despite being an Indian team) hasn’t employed an Indian driver. It’s the same with Mahindra Racing. Does the team have any Indian in its radar?

We had Sarath Kumar as one of our riders in the CIV this year. However, during the course of the season, he decided to opt out due to personal reasons — a decision that we respected. We still continue to support him by way of a grant. However, at this moment, we are still to find a rider with the talent required to compete at the world stage. But rest assured, we shall be the happiest team on earth the moment we find such a competitive Indian talent.

Who are the promising Indian riders you would like to have on board at least in the next few years?

We keep scouting for talent across the world (including India) in National championships and of course in the world of FIM MotoGP. But at the moment, we do not have any information to share. We shall be announcing our new riders for the 2013 Moto3 season in Valencia soon.

Any plans to enter teams in other classes of motorcycle Grand Prix racing?

Currently, we do not have any plans of entering higher classes of Grand Prix Racing. For the moment we will continue to focus on improving our performance in the FIM MotoGP World Motorcycle Racing Championship (Moto3 class) and the Italian National Motorcycle Racing Championship.