In a significant boost to motorsport in India, leading car maker Maruti Suzuki has decided to enhance its involvement in the MAI Indian National Rally Championship by rewarding the overall winners in various categories with top models of cars from its stable.
Making the announcement in Mumbai on Wednesday, Motorsports Association of India president Nazir Hoosein said it is a big day for the sport in the country.
"It's a day of change for motorsport in India. It's a major step forward for the sport," Hoosein said at a press conference to announce the sponsorship details as well as MAI's calendar for the Indian National Rally Championship.
The overall winner of the championship will become the owner of a Baleno model, while the winner in the 1101-1400cc category will drive home an Alto. The winner in the Rally Star Cup will be rewarded with its an 800cc vehicle.
"Apart from these rewards in kind there's also cash incentive in every leg of the championship to the tune of Rs 75,000 each. The overall champion during the year will also take home close to Rs 100,000," Hoosein said.
The championship will, however, be open to vehicles of all makes and not restricted to the company's cars.
The MAI has also decided to initiate the Gypsy Cup for new rally enthusiasts, Hoosein added.
The best-of-eight races championship commences with the July 2-4 MAK Nashik rally in Maharashtra and ends with the December 17-19 Coffee Day Rally in Chikmagalur in Karnataka.
The pick of the events will be the MRF India rally, a round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2004, to be run in Mumbai/Pune in the first week of December.
The complete MAI INRC 2004 calendar:
July 2-4: MAK Nashik Rally 2004, Nashik
August 6-8: K-1000, Bangalore
August 20-22: Kerala Rally 2004, Kochi
September 10-12: WIAA Rallye De Goa
October 29-31: Power M1 Challenge, Chandigarh
November 19-21: Maruti Suzuki India Challenge, Delhi
December 3-5: MRF India Rally, Mumbai/Pune
December 17-19: Coffee Day Rally, Chikmagalur.