Mahindra on the right path to success

Motor sport

In 2008, Mahindra & Mahindra acquired Italy’s Engines Engineering, who had been constructing race bikes and providing specialised components and technical support for teams in MotoGP since 2003.

taking it head on Mahindra Racing’s Marcel Schrotter will look to push the brand new 250 cc, four-stroke MGP 30 to its limit when the new season kicks off at the Losail circuit in Qatar on April 8.

Last January, Mahindra Racing was unveiled and with it a new set of dreams unfolded as an Indian team featured in Moto3 for the first time.

Briton Dani Webb and Germany’s Marcel Schrotter, astride the GP125, got the team off to a great start, finishing with a combined tally of 60 points to spur the Indian outfit to third on the constructors’ championship table. This year, with the 125cc class having gone out of circulation, the duo will have to adopt to racing 250cc bikes.

Deccan Herald caught up with team principal Mufaddal Choonia to get an idea of what to expect this season. Excerpts:

On the performance in 2011: The first year was great. It was one of the most impressive starts for any team. We scored points in our second race and that is commendable. We also finished third on the constructors’ table. It is safe to say we had an incredible season overall. It was a very satisfying year in the sense that we achieved what we had set out to.

On what 2012 has in store: Firstly, we have a new bike this season and that in itself is a humungous challenge for a team which has been in the sport for only a year.

Last year, we were riding 125 cc two-strokes and this year it will be the 250 cc four-strokes. Everything is different. Basically, we have built a bike from scratch. We had to bring in four-stroke engine experts, rebuild the chassis, fine-tune suspension and get new electronics. We have spruced up the entire bike as well as the technical team.

On how the riders have adapted to the new bike (MGP30): During the initial rounds of testing, Dani and Marcel did very well. Two-stroke and four-stroke engines are completely different entities. The two strokes have a much sharper performance curve while the four strokes are flatter, which means the way you approach corners and power up on the straights are different. We had decided before signing them on that they were very talented and could make the switch.

They are young, responsive and adapt to foreign conditions very quickly. That characteristic kept us in good stead last year, and by the looks of it, will do this year as well.

On if upgrades will be brought on as the season progresses: For sure. We did that last year as well. There are certain aspects of the bike that we can assess only after a race and those factors will be taken into consideration when bringing in new parts. We will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the bike, and make sure we have more strengths than weaknesses as the season goes by.

On signing up Chennai-born Sarath Kumar: Sarath will be riding in the 125cc class of the Italian championship (season kicks off on March 25). We had an eye on his performances throughout last year with WTR Racing, and we were very impressed.

He showed a lot of talent. Harnessing Indian talent was high on our agenda at Mahindra and what better way to do that than have an Indian rider on the grid. We did not want to field him in Moto3 because we do not want to put any pressure on him. If we push him to racing in those events immediately, it could prove detrimental to his growth as a rider. We decided to take it step by step, and so we fielded him in the Italian championship which is known to be a good training ground.

On any plans to move up the ladder in the Motoseries: The 250 cc platform is great for us because it is relevant. It is relevant to the Indian market as most bikes on Indian roads are 250 ccs. We have no plans of moving up Motos.

On the possibility of winning the constructors’ championship: We are not here to make up the numbers. We are here to win. We want to be world champions at some point and we are doing everything to get there. We will not stop until we make it to the top of the ladder.

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