'Lack of exposure hindering Indian drivers'

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The biggest hurdle Indian drivers have faced since time immemorial is the lack of local manufacturers entering racing. While the likes of Maruti have contributed with engines, they aren’t enough, say in comparison to the sheds in Woking, England, to inspire confidence. 

Sanjay Sharma, head of motor sport JK Tyre, reckoned this was one of the biggest issues the country has had in generating world-class drivers.

“Look at all the talent we have, from the Narains (Karthikeyen) to the Karuns (Chandhok) to the Mainis (Arjun and Kush)…. while two them did make it to the biggest level, they weren’t able to sustain it because they never got the experience of significantly better cars that their counterparts from other countries get to drive in,” he opined. 

“These guys are world-class drivers but on the biggest scale, exposure matters. Also, exposure to powerful engines and cars from a young age. These guys were driving significantly less-powered cars growing up and despite that, they made it this far. 

“Imagine, they had Indian manufacturers giving them engines like the ones European drivers are exposed to early on. They wouldn’t waste a couple of years each time trying to get up to speed. They would be doing great things instead.

“They don’t want to use this sport for their research, though, it makes the most sense,” he added. 

JK Tyre, who have been on the forefront of motor sport in India for a few decades now, have once again partnered with a new league - X1 Racing League - with an attempt at bolstering the state of the sport in the country. While Sharma remained hopeful, he was also looking to bring in more investors by highlighting the state of the sport in the country. 

“They say motor sport is dead but look at the number of people who have turned up today,” he says pointing to the 35000-odd people in the grandstand at the Buddh International Circuit during the Festival Of Speed on Sunday. 

“These turnouts and the general appreciation for motor sport has never died in the country. I feel like more and more people are aware of how it works now. That extends to inside the government too,” he said.

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