The first-ever national championship triumph for an EV

Adil is mighty impressed with an electric car's first-ever national autocross triumph
Mazdayar Vatcha breezing through the storm with his XUV 400, the only electric title contender in the entire series!
Mazdayar Vatcha breezing through the storm with his XUV 400, the only electric title contender in the entire series!National Autocross Championship

I don't know how many of us automotive enthusiasts and even those within the motorsport fraternity realise a seminal moment in the history of motor racing in this country took place in the 2023 Indian National Autocross Championship. Thanks to the shenanigans of the FMSCI and the promoters of this series, the final round was run on the 21st of April this year! But that is another story altogether, which isn’t the history I am alluding to but business as usual.

The history which I am referring to, and which needs to be recognised, is the first ever National Championship triumph for an electric car while fighting against conventional IC-engined automobiles! The credit for this goes to the indefatigable Mazdayar Vatcha of Hyderabad, a roughhewn gem of a human being and a passionate competitor who wears his heart on his sleeve, ever ready to fight the good fight in a clean and fair manner. Mazdayar had the only electric car in the field over all the rounds of the National Autocross Championship, a Mahindra XUV400 which he had first used to good effect in the support race for Indian-built cars during the Hyderabad round of the 2023 Formula E Championship meet.

Coming into the final round, in the INAC 3 Open Class the standings were on a knife edge with a horde of Volkswagen Polos (mostly the rally versions), Hondas and y Suzukis. Here Mazdayar beat the Volkswagen Polos driven by Goan ace Ameya Desai and Praveen Dwarkanath from Coimbatore, into second and third spots respectively, to clinch the championship in this top class. There was a lot of hue and cry about this victory, surprisingly from the IC-engined brigade, who complained about an electric car competing with them and thrashing them in the process.

Well there was nothing in the rules to prevent an EV from competing with the IC-engined cars and Mazdayar had been consistent in all the previous rounds held zone wise. It was only when the XUV400 got the better of them that all hell broke loose. It now transpires that the 2024 edition of the INAC will have separate classes for EVs and IC-engined machines. This shows how ill-equipped we are in our minds to not take cognizance of the fact that our rule makers need to be both aware and alert about making regulations for EVs in Indian motorsport.

Thinking aloud, I cannot say for sure if Mazdayar and the XUV400’s victory is the first for an electric car winning a National Championship against the IC-engined competition anywhere in the world, but for sure it has created history which not many are even aware of! Take a bow Mazdayar and Mahindra. You have etched your small imprint on our sport in a most unheralded manner but the ramifications are massive. And I, who isn’t yet an absolute convert to the electric mobility cause, am proud to be flying the flag for something unique which has happened here in our country.

It would help the EV cause if many more manufacturers got to grips with motorsport and also if the FMSCI comes up with clear cut regulations to classify them with their own nuances and protocols. I remember that I wrote the National Competition Rules (N.C.R.) for the discipline of motocross for the FMSCI and these have yet stood the test of time since then, barring for newer classes and a different points spread on occasion. We need someone like Pratap ‘Bobby’ Jayaram to be brought in to write the EV rule book and he sure does know what makes these shockingly silent machines so fast. And my closing remark here would be to have a class which is propellant agnostic so that the IC-engined brigade can get a chance to put one across Mazdayar and the Mahindra XUV400, that is if they can. This surely would spice up our sport and help it grow. Now that would truly be history in the making.

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