India steps up MotoGP Mahindra efforts
Mahindra Racing, India’s only constructor in World Championship motorcycle racing, today reaffirmed its commitment to the MotoGP series and predicted that it is set for a best-ever season in the Moto3 title race.
The announcements were made at a special event at Gateway House, the Mahindra Group’s historic former headquarters in Mumbai, where Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, welcomed Mr. Carmelo Ezpeleta (CEO of MotoGP rights-holder Dorna Sports) and Mr. Jorge ‘Aspar’ Martinez (CEO of Mahindra Racing’s new partner, the Aspar Team).
Speaking to a group of Indian journalists and VIPs, Mr. Mahindra explained that Mahindra Racing, serves an important role within the Mahindra Group.
“We are still at a relatively early phase of our journey in motor sport, but the technological challenge and learning that we achieve through our racing programmes are of major importance to the whole Group. The international footprint and high-profile of MotoGP helps us build the Mahindra brand globally. We are also strengthening our technical skills with the opening of a new development centre in Italy. This becomes part of our neural network of innovation along with other R&D facilities in India, Korea and the US.”
Mr. SP Shukla, Chairman of Mahindra Racing and Mahindra Group President – Group Strategy, Defense Sector, and Chief Brand Officer, outlined a number of changes made by Mahindra Racing as it matures as a constructor in the ultra-competitive Moto3 class.
“The 2015 Moto3 grid will feature four teams and nine Mahindra MGP3O machines, one more than last season,” he explained. “However, the main change is that we shall not run our own team, instead we have bolstered our line-up of partner teams with the important addition of the Aspar Team. Jorge Martinez – known as Aspar – is a legend of the sport having achieved multiple World Championships as a rider first and then as a team owner. Working closely with Jorge’s team should help us to develop and deliver even better results in 2015,” said Mr. Shukla.
Under the new structure, Aspar Team will concentrate on running the team and developing the riders – while Mahindra Racing will focus on developing a winning bike and better supporting its customer teams. To help with that process Mahindra Racing has recently opened a new European technical base at Besozzo near Varese in Northern Italy.
VIP visitor Mr. Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sport, was delighted to be in India and explained the importance of Mahindra’s MotoGP involvement to a growing Indian audience. “We have definitely seen a surge of interest in MotoGP from India since Mahindra joined the series in 2011. I have been very impressed by what I have seen so far from Mahindra. The Mahindra bike challenges at the front of Moto3 and many teams and riders have been interested in working with Mahindra. I think the changes put in place for 2015 should make Mahindra even more successful and that can only be good for MotoGP in India.
“India is an economic powerhouse in the world economy and a very important growth market for the sport of MotoGP. I know that I am not alone among international sports rights holders looking for growth in India. However, I do feel the ingredients are all right for us: India has a huge two-wheeler market; in Mahindra we have an Indian constructor competing successfully in the sport; and we have a fantastic product – anyone who watches MotoGP with its mix of drama, excitement, speed and characters can very easily become hooked. We won’t just rely on those ingredients, however, and are working very hard on improving our TV distribution. We are also continuing to work on bringing a MotoGP race to India. And judging by what I have seen of the motorcycle riders on Mumbai’s roads today, I am sure there is also a future Indian World Champion out there somewhere!”
Joining the VIPs on stage was MotoGP Hall of Fame inductee Jorge ‘Aspar’ Martinez, whose successful Aspar Team becomes Mahindra Racing’s partner team in the World Championship during the 2015 season. Martinez won four World Championships as a rider in the 1980s before founding his own team in 1992 and securing a further four World Championships as a team owner.
The highly-experienced Spaniard was full of praise for his new technical partner. “Straight after the end of last season we started testing with Mahindra and the whole team was immediately very pleased,” he explained. “The riders found a good feeling with the bike and were able to record some very good lap times almost immediately. The bike is quick, agile and reliable and we have quickly established a very good technical and personal relationship with the Mahindra engineering team.
“I have been involved in the MotoGP series for a long time, but I am genuinely feeling very enthused and excited by this new partnership and the season ahead. We have three talented young riders in the World Championship and some exciting new prospects in the Spanish Championship, and I am confident that, together with Mahindra, we’ll enjoy a lot of success on-track.”
It was left to Mahindra Racing CEO Mufaddal Choonia to sum up the prospects for Mahindra Racing in 2015: “We had one podium in 2013 and three last year, including a second place. Clearly we are looking to go one better this year. I believe that we have put together a package capable of winning races and regularly finishing on the podium. We have a great deal of young riding talent aboard Mahindra machinery in Moto3 and an extremely experienced addition to our line-up of teams in Team Aspar. It’s an exciting year and I am confident that our new structure and on-going hard work will pay dividends.”