For as long as one can remember, motorsport in India has featured a much talked about rivalry between two tyre companies that most consistently lent their support to both rallying and racing in the country. JK Tyre and MRF’s rivalry in rallying was the seed for a lot of competitive spirit and for those following the sport to also discuss, buy into and even embellish at times.
Things are different now, however, as both companies have no factory participation in rallying or racing but rather are seen as competitors in the field of supporting Indian motorsport, be it at a grassroots level or higher up the motorsport food chain.
JK Tyre’s long serving motorsport head Sanjay Sharma, however, feels that there is no reason to compare the two firms particularly as he feels MRF is extremely advanced when it comes to technical nous.
“People keep talking about MRF and JK and the rivalry but really there is no competition,” Sharma told autoX. “Those guys (MRF) are so far ahead with what they are capable of technically, if you look at their F1600, F2000 cars and even their involvement in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. And they have some really good drivers in their motorsport program too.
“They are also a much bigger company than us so I don’t worry about the rivalry part that much as much as I do with how they promote their motorsport activities and not racing at the Buddh International Circuit.”
Sharma expressed concern that by not bringing the F1600 series or even the MRF Challenge to the state of the art venue that hosted India’s first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix, it hurt the viability of the circuit as a racing venue and also deprived drivers in the MRF racing series a chance to race at an F1 grade circuit in India.
The MRF F1600 series was to originally conclude its season on September 17-18 at the Buddh Circuit but decided to hold all its rounds at the Madras Motor Race Track instead, not even visiting the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore.
“If it is a question of money, I don’t really know why that would be a problem for someone like MRF,” said Sharma.
The Volkswagen Vento Cup will conclude its season at the Buddh Circuit as earlier planned, however. The F1600 series not visiting the 5.141km circuit near Greater Noida will be a missed opportunity for motorsport enthusiasts to compare the speed of MRF’s single seater machine and that of the newly upgraded Euro JK 16 cars, that were previously named JK FB02.