India's motorsport portfolio, hitherto largely parochial, looks set to expand following the arrival of F1 later this year, with plans to stage a double-header for the popular Australian V8 Supercar series from 2012.
India is set to become the latest addition to the F1 schedule when the recently renamed Buddh International Circuit debuts in late October, but the country is already eyeing up further attractions to build on the surge in popularity of motorsport that has swelled since the arrival of Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok and Force India in the top flight.
According to reports, the V8 Supercar series - which has already staged flyaways in China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi - is in talks to hold rounds of its burgeoning championship in India from next year, with plans for a double-header visit taking in races at both Buddh International and a street circuit in Chennai. Negotiations are very much in their infancy, however, with India rightly focused on making sure its world championship bow is not as fraught as that of 2010 debutant Korea.
"There's a bit of work to do, and in fairness to the Indians front of mind for them at the moment is their first F1 race," Peter Linford, Australia's senior trade commissioner in New Delhi, told Australian Associated Press
, "To talk to them about V8s is a little bit difficult because they're so focused on getting the track ready, especially as they haven't run an F1 race there before."
Linford also admitted that, as F1 had already done, the V8s could do worse than attracting Indian talent to its ranks.
"Having an Indian driver with an Indian team racing against all of the other Australians makes a lot of sense because that will give us the opportunity to televise the series more popularly in India," he explained, "Then, when the series does come to India, it will have a fan base already established."
Indian involvement in F1, meanwhile, continues to grow with the announcement that Indian-owned battery giant Base had signed a three-year technical partnership with Hispania Racing.
Already a sponsor of the Canadian cricket team at this year's World Cup in India, the company will be the official battery supplier to HRT and will see its logos carried 'prominently' on the F111.
“We are thrilled to continue our international sporting partnership, this time with the Hispania Racing Team and look forward to a successful season," COO Aditya Arora commented, "This is a natural progression, ensuring exposure for Base Batteries on a global stage in one of the world's most prestigious sporting arenas. As an official partner of the young F1 team, we will use the sponsorship both for brand building in key regions as well as offer ongoing opportunities for our business partners to get involved in this exciting racing event."
Team principal Colin Kolles confirmed that the deal had come on the back of Hispania's decision to hire Karthikeyan for 2011, despite the Indian driver having been out of the top flight for several years.
“I am very pleased and proud that Base Batteries have become the official battery company of Hispania Racing," Karthikeyan added, "It is a matter of great pride for the Indian population that the most technologically advanced racing cars in the world are becoming increasing reliant on Indian know-how. I hope that this trend continues, and am looking forward to representing Base at the Indian Grand Prix in October this year. I am convinced this is just the beginning and welcome the many more Indian companies that will follow suit in becoming technology partners of Hispania Racing.”