A new formula to revive motorsport
Xavier’s in semis
Raman to submit report

Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
The huge ego roadblock that had so far stood in the way of development of motorsport in the country — bringing to a grinding halt all high profile activity — could finally be removed. Feelings are still tender, but a likely meeting between top level people like Nazir Hoosein, Anand Swadi, and Vijay Mallya could bring about at least a workable solution. No clear date has been set for the meeting, though either side emphasises it “will be soon enough.”

For long, head honchos of two controlling organisations in the country — the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) and the new Motorsports Association of India (MAI) — were wearing their attitudes on their shirt-sleeves, and had opted for court routes rather than dirt tracks.

It was a sad commentary on the perils of small thinking.

Special stage rallying had withered away in the country and the handful of Time Speed Distance (TSD) events that were being held locally with group N (barely stock) cars seemed as hot as root beer in a nightclub. The faction-fight saw a rather successful National Rally Circuit of seven years (one that had the potential to rival the Malaysian Asian Circuit rushes) simply dry out.

Then, after the last elections of the FMSCI, and with Swadi taking over as president (Mallya is chairman), and with Bengal Motor Sports Club president Rajat Majumdar taking up a vice-president’s post, came this recent proposal for a compromise formula. Not that it is foolproof. In fact, a rather intransigent shade of honour is still at stake, so nobody wants to talk aloud.

Hence there remains little elbow space for negotiation yet, which will not go down well with prospective sponsors. One has to keep in mind that the national sponsors Castrol had to cut the apron strings and run from the infighting.

So far, the sport has been generally wasting, and no momentum has accrued to the recession-stricken automobile industry (not to speak of the ancillary industries) which could have ridden piggyback to decent business deals. If there were a few optimistic voices, the rather raucous pessimists had done well to stub them out.

The compromise formula, delicately placed for the warriors to dissect or accept, looks decent enough. The parameters are not set in stone, but broadly the following:

1. Call for joint rally permits. Both associations be allowed to issue them with logos of both associations on the permits. (At the moment the MAI holds the four-wheeler permit from the international body FIA, while the FMSCI holds the two-wheeler permit from its international body FIM). That meant while the MAI should allow FMSCI four-wheeler liberty, the FMSCI should allow two-wheeler liberty as a pay-back.

2 and/or 3. Common rules and regulations for rally events; Adherence to the existing National Competition Rules as per those adapted from the FIA rules.

4. Appeals and arbitration.

This issue has been hanging fire for long. The FMSCI’s (established in 1976) practice of demanding a rather heavy ‘fee’ for even lodging a protest was deemed unfair and a separate committee was to have overseen this and no charges levied on the aggrieved competitor. There were also problems with the rules and regulations and the manner in which rallying was conducted. Hoosein, of the Himalayan Rally fame (also an FMSCI representative to the FIA), broke away in 1999 to form the MAI.

Nothing much has happened since, except for the successful national go-karting championship, mostly a private enterprise.

Why the impasse?

It is difficult to trace the wisdom in such an impasse. Liquor baron and FMSCI chairman Mallya is a member of the FIA. In October 1999, the FIA asked the FMSCI to restructure itself with the help of Hoosein. In Mallya’s address to the FIA council next year the chairman tried to put across his federation’s views on the restructuring and how it would not be democratic to ‘appoint’ Hoosein to the post asked for and to constitute the office bearers’ body also as asked for before elections. Mallya explained that Hoosein “would not be have been normally eligible” for election to the FMSCI council because of his then ongoing litigation with his home club, the Indian Automotive Racing Club, Mumbai.

Hoosein had been, instead, appointed chief of the rallying section. This Hoosein refused to accept. Hoosein has decided not to comment yet, saying it would “not be fair and could queer the pitch before talks.” Fair enough; the devil in the detail is scary.

After personal relations — world body versus national body — had come to the fore, the two top sponsors of motorsport in this country — JK Tyre and MRF — fell foul of each other. That can be explained away as a corporate decision, both being tyre manufacturers. But the arresting USP that successful rally teams like N. Leelakrishnan of the MRF Team and Hari Singh of the JK Tyre Team were slowly building for the sport and for the automobile industry in the country was destroyed.

A possible case of induced myopia.

JK Tyre has concentrated on developing a clutch of top drivers (including Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok and the like) for the ultimate Formula One experience. The company has spent over Rs 15 crore on the sport in the country and, according to Sanjay Sharma, head of motorsport in the company, “over 40 per cent of all such recent expenditure has been in infrastructure.”

That’s good news, as far as karting and in-stadium circuit racing is concerned. For those who dare the outdoors, and for the general automobile industry, it makes little difference.

Other possible piggyback riders like auto finance and refinance and insurance companies, and companies in the petroleum, beverage, tele-communication sector have not been able to push in. Guess who had been losing all along, on a splinter of attitude?


Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
St Xavier’s rode centuries by Soumya Dey and Sayan Dey to a 185-run victory over Shyamaprasad and entered the semi-finals of the CAB inter-college cricket meet today.

Soumya’s 163 came off 110 balls while Sayan faced 120 deliveries during his unbeaten 155.

BRIEF SCORES: St Xavier’s 372/2 (Soumya Dey 163, Sayan Dey 155 n.o.). Shyamaprasad 187 (P.S. Rupra 101; Vibin Anthony 3/1, Deepak Agarwal 3/12). St Xavier’s won by 185 runs.

Inter-bank football

Allahabad Bank blanked Canara Bank 5-0 in the Eastern region inter-bank football meet at Durgapur today. According to information received here, Somnath Pramanik (2), Pradip Talukdar, Dilip Das and Sumit Mukherjee scored for Allahabad Bank.

In another match, Central Bank overcame Punjab National Bank 3-1. Ramen Banik, Ranjit Karmakar and Biswajit Muhury scored for Central while Shibu Pal reduced the margin for Punjab National Bank. In another tie, Union Bank beat United Bank of India 3-0, Sujit Ghosh, Ajit Barua and Gauranga Dutta being the scorers.

Ashoknagar in last 4

Tollygunge Ashoknagar Vidyapith beat Haltu High School 2-1 to enter the semi-finals in the city leg of the Britannia Anandabazar Cup inter-school football tournament.

OTHER RESULTS: Sukantanagar Vidyaniketan bt Kalinagar HS 4-1; Shyambazar AV bt Beleghata Deshabandhu HS 2-0; Kumar Ashutosh Institute bt Krishnapur Jadunath Madhavchandra HS 4-0; Chowbhaga HS bt Beniapukur High Madrasa 9-0; Jadavpur HS bt Metropolitan School 3-0.

Athletic meet

R.F. Ishapore and Metal and Steel Factory, Ishapore, emerged men’s and women’s team champions, respectively, in the all-India Ordnance Factories athletic meet. East were the zonal champions.


Calcutta, Feb. 18: 
Bengal coach Woorkeri Raman will submit a detailed analysis of his team’s performance in a report to the CAB before leaving for Chennai Wednesday.

Bengal reached the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy before bowing out to Railways under their first ‘foreign’ coach. The Bengal squad reached the city yesterday night and Raman paid a “courtesy call” to CAB joint secretary Bablu Kolay this evening.

In his report, Raman is expected to give his views on the current side and its future prospects. He is likely to list contributions made by each player and suggest ways to improve their performance to the CAB.


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