FMSCI back in driver’s seat in Indian motor sport

November 8th, 2008 - 7:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Nov 8 (IANS) The restoration of sporting power to the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) brought the curtain down on an eight-year imbroglio while triggering a sense of optimism and cheer in motor sport circles. The General Assembly of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) voted 48-23 in Paris Friday to hand over the sporting power to FMSCI from Motor Sports Association of India (MAI).

Since 2000, when the Nazir Hoosein of the Himalayan Rally fame formed the rival MAI and secured sporting power that in effect gained his organization the FIA endorsement, the two federations have been at loggerheads that brought out the worst of politicking in the sport.

The Chennai-based FMSCI, the founder of organized motor sport in India some five decades ago, though had the recognition of the Indian government. After a compromise of sorts, the MAI ran four-wheeler events in India while permitting FMSCI to organize two-wheeler competitions. It was, at best, an uneasy truce with Vijay Mallya as the chairman of both the federations.

Speaking to IANS here Saturday, Vicky Chandhok, the former FMSCI president and now its council member, but the most influential person in view of his long friendship with and proximity to Mallya, said plans were still to be worked out.

“It is a relief that the matter has ended, but it is early days yet as we still have to meet and discuss the way forward. For the time being, the events sanctioned by the MAI will continue and they include the INRC (Indian National Rally Championship) rounds in Kodagu, Karnataka (Nov 28-30) and Nashik (December),” he said.

The FMSCI’s AGM is scheduled for December and a new set of office-bearers would be elected, Chandhok disclosed.

Mallya has convened a conclave of sorts in Chennai next week, inviting a cross-section of top personalities who are involved in motor sport either directly or through their companies.

Reacting to the developments, Anthony Rodricks, General Manager-Advertising, MRF, and also the boss of the company’s motor sport team, said: “It is still too early to say anything. Of course, we would like to continue our involvement in motor sport, but we are awaiting an official intimation from the FMSCI.”

His counterpart in JK Tyre, Sanjay Sharma said it was time for all like-minded persons and organizations to get together and work out a roadmap for motor sport in India.

The various officials and competitors IANS spoke to felt that the sport had suffered a lot in view of the MAI-FMSCI impasse although Indians continued to make forays on international stage.

In the new millennium, India saw Narain Karthikeyan making it to Formula One with Karun Chandhok poised to follow suit after a reasonably successful tenure in GP2 series. Elsewhere, V R Naren Kumar became the first Indian to drive in the World Rally Championship (Production class) while Armaan Ebrahim (Formula Renault, A1 GP, GP2, Formula BMW Pacific) and Ashwin Sundar (Formula ADAC Germany) are not far behind.

However, none of these drivers received any financial support from the national federation and had to cough out huge sums of money on their own to meet the costs of participation.

Some of the competitors felt it was high time that the federation put in place a system that would make motor sport an affordable venture.

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