Home FEATURES The IPL of Motorsport You Probably Don’t Know About

The IPL of Motorsport You Probably Don’t Know About

Picture Source: Twitter

In early 2018, veteran racing drivers Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim pitched the idea of an Indian franchise-based motorsport league. They brought their idea to fruition in November 2019, when international drivers along with fresh Indian talents behind the wheel, hit the track at Budhh International Circuit. But it didn’t go quite as planned and to say that it faced a few bumps along the way would be a massive understatement. Let’s take it from the top and see what happened.

The Xtereme1 Racing League or more popularly known as X1 Racing League was advertised as an international scale racing series that would feature cars developed and manufactured in India solely for X1 Racing League.

The first season of X1RL was initially set to take place over 12 race weekends and 24 races in total raced by 8 city-based teams, each team having 4 drivers. But by the time they could get wheels rolling at the first race, the numbers dwindled to 2 race weekends, 8 races and only 6 teams. Courtesy of the barrage of Financial, Logistic and Technical problems of promoting a niche sport in India.

“We have to remember that only a handful of people have spent money in promoting the sport and it is always going to be a huge task to sell to people who have not had any prior involvement in the sport before.” Co-founder, Aditya Patel said in an interview with The Bridge.

But instead going into what went wrong, have a look at all the things that went spectacularly well. Getting international drivers to participate was a huge challenge for our Indian racing duo but they managed to rope in names as big as Mathias Lauda, son of the Legendary F1 champ, Nikki Lauda.

Aditya and Ebrahim also managed to convince ESPN to air the races, which is an accomplishment that most of the Indian motorsport is yet to reach. The last time people tuned in for racing in India was the Indian Grand Prix in 2013.

My favourite bit about the X1RL would be their attempt at a grassroots talent hunt, the founders organized an E-Sports event whereupon participants could drive simulators and take part without the hassle of traveling or even being able to afford a racing career in real life. According to Co-founder Armaan Ebrahim, the aim was to target schools and colleges and identify young and passionate drivers that would take the league forward.

The first of many setbacks was the cancellation of the street events that would take place on the city streets of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Fans who were excited to see howling turbo-charged engines parade around their city were quite disappointed. But the league’s already stretched thin finances couldn’t possibly bear the sky-high costs of a street track infrastructure.

The second bit of not-so-good news came in late 2019, surprisingly close to race day. The league had scrapped the idea of using the initially advertised, LMP2 style two-seater cars, which were going to be tailor-made by the all-Indian company, JA Motorsports. Instead, the board decided to use a fleet of decade-old Formula BMW one-seaters, citing financial constraints. These old models are not easy to move around and logistics delays forced the organizers to cancel the second-last day of racing and club the final three races together on a single day …and here is where it all went wrong.

On December 8, 2019, only a few hours after the green signal was given to the final set of races at Madras Motor Race Track, the old BMWs started to show their age with almost half of the pack breaking down before the final race, most due to engine failure and some because of clogged fuel pumps and air filter issues. Leaving only 6 running cars to compete in the final.

Some say that the head of EuroInternational’s single-seater operation, Antonio Ferrari who is in charge of the old fleet is to blame, as he did not pay heed to the teams’ requests for testing and swapping parts. What’re Indian sports without a bit of drama? Nevertheless, the decision to change the cars had been devastating.

Despite all the unplanned changes and unending problems, season 1 of the X1 Racing League was an amazing success in the eyes of any Indian motorsports fan. Watching the championship victory of Bangalore Racing Stars’ Arjun Maini & Oliver James was nothing short of phenomenal.

Picture Source: Twitter

Bangalore Racing Stars were closely followed by Kush Maini & Mikkel Jensen in 2nd place, racing for the Mumbai Falcons. The last spot on the podium at MMRT was taken up by Black Birds Hyderabad, driven by Vitantonio Luizzi & Gosia Rdest, which was a proud moment for a Hyderabadi like myself and had me cheering at the edge of my seat.

Co-founder Aditya Patel was seen dropping hints that season 2 would be much better, but looking at the situation right now, that isn’t going to be anytime soon. Hopefully, season 2 of the X1 Racing League would give us Indian Motorsport fans something to scream and shout about on the weekends.

Also Read: DS Techeetah still strong after BMW break Da Costa’s winning streak

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  1. Well typed and informative, most of Indians are unfamiliar with this topic including me
    I didn’t even knew such thing existed

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