The 2023 MotoGP Indian Grand Prix got underway on a jovial note here on Thursday, with the riders experiencing two indispensable popular cultures of the country – Bollywood and Cricket.
Festivities at the Buddh International Circuit began on Thursday morning, with the riders getting a glimpse of India’s tunes and rhythm through a flashmob conducted on track.
The riders shrugged off their inhibitions and opened up on the track, joining the talented group of dancers that entertained the crowd ahead of the media press conferences in the evening.
The performance of Oscar winner‘ Naatu Naatu’ from the Telugu blockbuster RRR was the highlight of the day as the riders, including Alex Marquez, Takaaki Nakagami, and Jorge Martin brought out their moves to the global fan-favourite.
“It is great to be in India. We took part in a flash mob and saw these performers doing the typical Indian dance which has been a fantastic experience. All the dancers were really emotional, so, it’s been really good,” commented Marco Bezzecchi of the VR46 Racing Team
Yamaha’s Franko Morbidelli also expressed his joy as he got a brief taste of India’s culture. “The dance was beautiful, I know the last dance, it won an Oscar. It was a pleasure to see it live.”
After the celebrations in the morning, the riders enjoyed a brief game of gully cricket with World Champions Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia, trying their hand at India’s most popular game.
The cricket purists on track would have been disappointed after Quartararo struggled to put away a few full tosses from Bagnaia. However, the French rider brought a smile to their faces with a stunning lofted straight drive that flew past a couple of riders who had stationed themselves in catching positions.
Bagnaia then had a tryst with the bat, impressing with his backfoot play, expertly pulling a short ball from Luca Marini.
Former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina joined the riders on track, managing to hop on the side-car as Marc Marquez lapped the track on a Royal Enfield bike, recreating the famous Jay-Viru combo from the 1975 Bollywood blockbuster Sholay.
After the pomp and fun on Thursday, the riders will get down to serious business on Friday as they prepare themselves ahead of qualifying and the race during the weekend.
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