India: A new era for motorsports dawns as i1 Super Series launches in Mumbai
Machdar Motorsports, India’s new premier motorsports management company announced their maiden motor sporting venture, the i1 Super Series.
The i1 Super Series, is based on the popular city vs city based cricket IPL format with 9 teams representing different key cities across India. Each team will race with two cars forming an 18-car grid. The teams must include one Indian national and one International driver per car. The series will tour across 7 cities in Asia, New Delhi, Chennai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Pattaya.
The seven-round series, which will be flagged off at the new Formula 1 Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida on December 18, is the brainchild of Machdar Motorsports Pvt. Ltd. The series will feature nine franchisees in its inaugural year with each city fielding two identical powered Radical SR3 cars. Each race weekend will consist of one qualifying session and two races and teams will be competing for the Championship title and a total prize purse of $2 million.
Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, Armaan Ebrahim and Parthiva Sureshwaren are likely to add local flavour, while Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli and Vitantonio Liuzzi (both from Italy) are expected to bring in foreign firepower to the the championship. The i1 series is scheduled to be held in the winter when other international championships are off season.
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar will be involved with the i1 Super Series as advisor and brand ambassador, MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh have also evinced interest.
“The nine franchisees are being sold at a base price of $5 million and it is by invitation only. We will officially announce the list of owners along with our television partner in the coming weeks. The series will provide a platform for budding drivers and the format is designed to pair young and upcoming racers with the best International drivers, thus enabling the development of Indian talent,” said Anjana Reddy, director of Machdar Motorsports.
Lex Akehurst, of Dubai based XSport Motorsports and Head of Operations for the series commented, ” I am very proud to be involved with Indian motorsports at this early stage of its development. We have a very exciting IPL platform with a great future and it will give the entire country an immense boost as it launches into Formula 1 in a few months, the future for young Indian drivers looks bright.
Confirming that he has been approached by the series, Narain Karthikeyan, India’s first F1 driver, said, “The championship will begin in December when other international events take a break and I am relatively free at that time. I have held talks with driver coordinator Enrico Zanarini and I will make a decision soon.”
Team Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok is delighted with the launch of i1 Super Series. “It is great for Indian motorsport to have such a competitive series. I am sure the series will provide a great platform for the youngsters,” he said.
Young talent Armaan Ebrahim is excited about the prospects of rubbing shoulders with the big names. “It would be great to have F1 drivers in the same championship. One can learn a lot from them,” said the racer who is touted to be the next Indian to ply his trade in F1.
In its second year the series aims to expand its race weekend format to include Motorbikes and Karting as part of the race weekends.
1. New Delhi (December 18); 2. Abu Dhabi (January 8); 3. Doha (January 15); 4. Dubai (January 22); 5. Kuala Lumpur (February 5); 6. Pattaya (February 12); 7. Chennai or New Delhi (February 25). (*Provisional Calendar subject to FIA approval)