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Rediff.com  » Sports » Mahindra pick foreign riders for MotoGP foray

Mahindra pick foreign riders for MotoGP foray

January 21, 2011 16:25 IST

In yet another first for the country, the Mahindra group will become the first Indian motorcycle manufacturer to enter a team in the FIM Road Racing World Championship (MotoGP).

The team, named Mahindra Racing, will compete in the 125cc category in its inaugural season.

Briton Danny Webb and German Marcel Schrotter are the riders representing the new team, beginning in the first race at Qatar in March.

"It is a new team but the company backing it is a reputed one," said Webb, explaining his decision to race for the fledgling team.

Webb (left) and Schrotter at the launch"We have the first test next month and we start our campaign at Qatar," he added.

His team mate Schrotter concurred.

"This might be a new team but it gives you a good feeling," said the German, a former European champion in the category.

The MotoGP comprises three categories: the 125cc, the 600cc and the 800cc, and most top manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Aprilia, Suzuki et al) participate in all the three.

Regarding Mahindra's decision to draft a team only in the 125cc category, there was a clear-cut and pragmatic explanation.

"It is the bike that most of the customers will ride," said Ruzbeh Irani, Executive vice-president (Corporate Strategy) and Chief Brand Officer, adding, "We would like them to see how the product performs at a global stage."

Mahindra's entry to the MotoGP championship follows its acquisition of Engines Engineering, an Italian company constructs race bikes and provides specialised components and technical support for teams in the MotoGP championship since 2003.

In fact, the Mahindra Racing Team's motorcycle for this year's championships has been designed and developed by the Italian subsidiary.

With motorcycle racing gaining in popularity in India, and now an Indian team in the fray, it was imperative that questions regarding the participation of an Indian rider came up, especially when the lone Indian team in Formula 1 (Vijay Mallya's Force India) is yet to give an opportunity to an Indian.

"We will definitely be scouting for Indian talent, and when we do spot some, we will be showcasing them," said Irani, adding, "but that will happen only after we establish ourselves in the market.

 "At this stage we want to go with the best available options. For our first priority is to get our team going and prove ourselves on the circuit."