JK Tyre, MRF welcome decision to de-recognise MAI

June 26th, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 26 (IANS) JK Tyre and MRF, for long the key players in Indian motor sport, welcomed the decision of Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to divest the Motor Sports Association of India (MAI) of the ‘Sporting Power’ and transfer it back to the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI). JK Tyre is likely to stage a comeback to Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) after an eight-year break while MRF, who recently pulled out of the first round of INRC citing lack of transparency in the conduct of events, might review their decision and return to the championship from the next round at Nashik in July.

Speaking to IANS, JK Tyre’s motor sport head Sanjay Sharma said: “Rallying had always been part of our activities. We only pulled out of INRC because of certain issues concerning new regulations and also the absence of transparency in conduct of the events. Now that things have changed, we would of course return to rallying, though in what form I cannot tell you at this moment.”

During the 1990s, the New Delhi-based JK Tyre won multiple National championships with Hari Singh as their lead driver and their bitter rivalry with MRF produced some stirring duels that on occasions spilled over to the law courts.

“Our pullout of the championship had nothing to with personalities, but purely because some of the regulations did not make business sense for us to continue. Now, I can say our return to rallying is obviously on, but it is too early to say whether we will be starting a new team or sponsor some existing competitors,” said Sharma.

While welcoming the FIA decision, Sharma opined that the environment would attract new sponsors who had hitherto kept away in view of the long and messy tussle between MAI and FMSCI.

“Hereafter, everything will be positive and I am sure, the scenario would encourage fresh sponsors. FMSCI is more democratic (than MAI) and are also open to suggestions. So, let us wait and see how things will unfold.

“I am only surprised that it took FIA so long to decide for whatever reason, but I am happy that the Sporting Power is back with FMSCI,” Sharma said.

In Chennai, Anthony Rodricks, General Manager-Advertising, MRF, and who heads the motor sport division, hoped that the development would herald much needed changes in the sport.

However, it was obvious that Rodricks, who recently had a public spat with MAI president Nazir Hoosein, still harboured doubts over FMSCI’s functioning.

“I don’t think there is much to choose between MAI and FMSCI as far as functioning is concerned and I am saying this from my past experiences with both,” he said in a chat with IANS Thursday with an obvious reference to the many controversies and disputes between MRF and FMSCI in the 1990s.

Rodricks strongly felt that the conduct of events should be left to the promoter rather than the federations.

“This is the new trend. I prefer a promoter to run the event with the help of sponsors instead of the Federations. Today, we have Sidvin CoreTech interested in sponsoring the INRC. So we should leave it to them,” said Rodricks.

In parting, Rodricks had a good word for Hoosein, saying: “Nazir brought some discipline and transparency in the INRC, but then, in recent times, we had some issues with the MAI.”

When asked about MRF’s return to INRC at the Nashik round next month, Rodricks said: “We need assurances from Sidvin that they would address the issues we have raised, especially the need for electronic timing. If they do so, then we will certainly take part in Nashik.”

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