“Promoting INRC is a huge responsibility” says Vamcy Merla of Champions Group

“Promoting INRC is a huge responsibility” says Vamcy Merla of Champions Group

Champions Group have won the bid to promote the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship from 2019 to 2021. With the expected arrival of the Mahindra XUV300 for Gaurav Gill along with more Volkswagen Polo R2 cars entered for customer teams of Volkswagen Motorsport the INRC looks set to take a big step up. Champions Group will kick off the 2019 INRC with the curtain raiser on March 23-24 in Bangalore. They have grand plans to bring the standards of the INRC events up to international levels, hike the prize money across the categories and promote newcomers to the world of motorsport, especially women. They also plan to identify prospective drivers to represent India at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Subhakar Rao is the chairman of Champions Group while Vamcy Merla is the director of Champions Yacht Club and he tells editor Sirish Chandran, “Apart from the revenue, promotership is a huge responsibility and we need to do justice to it”.  Here’s the interview with Vamcy Merla, the director of Champions Yacht Club:

Sirish Chandran: Has it been confirmed that the Champions group is the promoter for the INRC?

Vamcy Merla: Yes, it has been confirmed. The MOU has been signed.

SC: What are your plans for the 2019 INRC season?

VM: Bringing maximum groups into the INRC. Even the FMSCI Cup will be part of the championship. We will support women in motorsport with a separate ladies category and also a Junior INRC category. We are putting efforts to reduce the overall entry fees, especially for upcoming drivers. This will attract more drivers in the championship. Also, as promoters, we can take care of the entry fees for drivers that we think have potential.

Besides, we will evaluate the drivers, try our best to support them or else bring in some sponsors for them. If there are big manufacturers that are running with tyre or oil sponsors, we will approach such sponsors with the profile of the drivers. Whether they want to give monetary support or provide tyres or oil will be their choice. We are also dealing with a few tuners to prepare some cars for a much lower price than they usually charge.

SC: Will you be running Team Champions in the INRC?

VM: The Team will participate but I will not be driving, it will be close associates who will run the team. As a promoter, I have the right to sponsor any team, which I will do. Team Champions was started to identify and promote new talent.

SC: What are you going to do to promote the INRC, and rallying in India?

VM: Every year drivers and teams participate in the same car with minor adjustments here and there. Volkswagen Motorsports has started R&D, building cars specifically for rallying, which can compete at an international level. Similarly, we expect other manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki to take similar initiatives. As far as we know, they seem to already have a car prepared. Mahindra Adventure is also coming up with their new Mahindra XUV300 rally car. I expect the game to go to the next level, for them to compete with foreign cars also, particularly the 4wd (AWD) cars. Since they will have an advantage and it isn’t an Indian car, they may not be given the championship.

Our editor gets back behind the wheel of a rally car after 4 years – Read his blog here

SC: Have you spoken to other partners to come on board with Champions as a promoter?

VM: Personally I am requesting other partners to come with the team. We are not taking any money from any manufacturer. If I go onboard with one manufacturer, the rest may not want to get involved, which is why there is no favouritism happening here. I want the sport to be more competitive and exciting.

SC: Will you also be promoting the National Autocross Championship or is it only the rallying?

VM: The autocross championship has been taken over by someone from Delhi, we are only taking care of rallying

SC: When is the season going to begin?

VM: We will do a curtain raiser event from March 23 to 24, 2019 in Bangalore with SSS stages for the drivers and teams to come and participate, but this will not be an INRC event. This will commence within a month after which we can expect the start of the INRC season.

SC: How many rounds will happen in 2019?

VM: We will have six rounds this time. We can have seven rounds, but the political elections and monsoon will make it difficult. I have already put in a request for 7-8 rounds in the next season.

SC: How many years have you got the promotership for?

VM: Three years, till 2021.

SC: Have you got plans for APRC or any international events?

VM: Yes, but it’s not Team Champions that goes to the APRC. It is the promoter that will identify the talent that is capable enough to go and give them the opportunity. Let us try to bring motorsport to the next level and make some very big names.

Read more about the upcoming INRC 2019 season in the upcoming issue of Motor Sport India magazine.
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