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Home > Sunday Mid Day News > MotoGP Bharat Why Indias biking enthusiasts are excited and hope it is here to stay

MotoGP Bharat: Why India’s biking enthusiasts are excited and hope it is here to stay

Updated on: 24 September,2023 08:00 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Gautam S Mengle |

All eyes on the MotoGP Bharat as India’s biking enthusiasts, while jubilant about the extravaganza, also hope it is here to stay

MotoGP Bharat: Why India’s biking enthusiasts are excited and hope it is here to stay

The excitement is evident, as India hosts its first MotoGP event this year. Every precaution has been taken to ensure that the Buddh International Circuit is ready to take the best of the biking world zoom around its curves, like Spanish champion Jorge Martin seen here in an earlier edition of the tournament. Pic Courtesy/MotoGP

It's the G20 of motor sports in India!” exclaims Ritesh Tokas, as he gears up for the much-awaited MotoGP Bharat this weekend. 

The 32-year-old Delhi resident is the Director of Shark Sports and Events, which holds sporting events all over the country. He is also living proof that the excitement for the motorbike racing event is not just limited to biking enthusiasts, but Formula 1 racing fans as well. 

“The Buddh International Circuit (BIC) is where I spend most of my weekends,” Tokas says about the venue of the MotoGP Bharat. “I participate in drifting competitions but have also been a biking fan. Now, I’m expecting friends not just from all over India, but even some from Dubai to attend MotoGP Bharat.”

Aarti Anthony Aarti Anthony 

One of the friends Tokas is expecting is Vivek Singh from Mumbai, who is also involved in Shark Sports. For Singh, the bond is an emotional one; he stopped biking after an accident in 2007 and watching events like MotoGP is his only way to relive the good old days. 

“I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am,” Singh tells us from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, an hour before his flight to Delhi. “I have always been passionate about biking. My first bike was an Apache and I got a Ducati after that. I can’t believe MotoGP is finally here, and that I’m going to see it live.”

For motor sporting fans like Tokas and Singh, the event is a highly anticipated one not just because of the thrills of the race, but also because, as fans, they feel proud that it puts India on the world map. 

Abhishek Takle, Vivek Singh and Ritesh Tokas Abhishek Takle, Vivek Singh and Ritesh Tokas 

As Dombivli resident Aarti Anthony puts it, “I remember watching the Moto GP on television and it always made me wonder when India would start hosting such races. And here we are today, as we watch that thought manifest into reality. This will be a game changer for the biking and racing world in India, as it will create a keen interest amongst riding enthusiasts. It’s amazing to see all the brands participating and we couldn’t have asked for more.”

The excitement is palpable, with the city being beautified and sponsors aligning with the organisers for the tournament, which will see 82 riders participate in 20 races. The run up also saw events like performances, music shows, giveaways, “moto-influencer” contests and felicitation of women riders to encourage increased participation. This year’s tournament will witness participation from numerous MotoGP greats, including last year’s winner Francesco Bagnaia from Italy, Marc Marquez from Spain, Jack Miller from Australia and Brad Binder from South Africa. 

“MotoGP has always had a hardcore fan following in India,” says senior auto journalist Abhishek Takle. “We love our bikes, even if every one of us can’t buy a Ducati. And bike racing has a thrill of its own, much more intense than even F1. It is a unique feeling that runs through your heart when the bikers lean into hard turns around sharp corners and straighten up again without missing a beat.”

Superbike designer Zubin Ponnappa, while excited about MotoGP, also hopes that red tape won’t hinder the event. Pic/Satej ShindeSuperbike designer Zubin Ponnappa, while excited about MotoGP, also hopes that red tape won’t hinder the event. Pic/Satej Shinde

For this reason, the track at BIC has been modified and triple checked to make sure that safety is ensured at every turn. 

“Over the past decade, safety measures have significantly advanced in the sport. Considering these improvements in safety measures and in accordance with the guidelines, which call for specific minor alterations in the track and runoff areas, these modifications are taken care of,” Vaibhav Sinha, CEO of FairStreet Sports, tells mid-day. FairStreet Sports has obtained the license to organise the race in India from 2023 to 2029 from Dorna Sports, the global organiser of MotoGP. 

Detailing the safety precautaions, Sinha says, “Keeping rider safety on priority, we’ve incorporated cutting-edge Type A, B, and C barricades, some of which utilize air and others feature foam components. These barricades represent the latest advancements in track safety technology, ensuring that our track is equipped with the most up-to-date safety measures for the upcoming race. We’ve expanded the run-off areas throughout the Buddh International Circuit, installing substantial gravel traps to provide a safety cushion in case a bike goes off the track. Furthermore, we’ve implemented significant adjustments at various turns, as well as relocated a larger wall at one turn to a safer position.”

Type A barricades are air fences, while Type B And C are foam safety barricades imported from Austria and Italy to be installed at corners designated as high impact zones. 

In a media interview earlier this month, Carlos Ezpelata, Chief Sporting Officer at Dorna Sports, also emphasised the insistence on safety on the track, where bikes zoom at over 350 kmph, while also stating that India is the biggest two-wheeler market in the world, with a rapidly increasing affinity towards premium bikes. 

Superbike designer Zubin Ponnappa, who owns his design garage, The Shed Bandra, in Mumbai, concurs with both Takle and Expelata. Not only is India obsessed with its bikes, he says, but the country has also become a huge market for designer bikes over the years because of the easy availability of foreign bikes. This, he adds, is what works perfectly in favour of MotoGP as a sport. 

“The event gives us exposure, it boosts tourism and it brings riders from all over the world to India, plus their fans and the manufacturers aligned with them. It is a one-of-a kind event and there is definite excitement in the biker community. I can only hope that red tape does not hinder the event, so that we can host MotoGP again next year, and the years after that,” says Ponnappa, who rues the fact that he can’t attend this year but is already planning to go next year. 

For most people from the biking enthusiast community in India, this year’s MotoGP Bharat is a deciding moment for the years to come. 

“A lot depends on how we do this year,” says Takle. “Factors like how the riders like the track, whether they will want to come back in light of the the visa hassles they faced this year and whether safety standards are maintained all throughout the tournament will contribute towards whether or not MotoGP is here to stay in India.”

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