By Christian Tiburtius
An exclusive interview with Amit Sandill, principal of Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India, which is fighting for the 2013 World Supersport crown with Kenan Sofuoglu.
Sofuoglu's team-mate is former champion Fabien Foret...
As a team owner, are you a frustrated rider?
No, not at all. I did a little riding in the early eighties but in India there wasn't much racing and we had nothing other than the old air cooled RD350's. We used to faff around on those without the right tyres. I remember using a set of treaded semi slick tyres until they became slicks. I've never raced anywhere other than India.
I stopped riding on the road in 2007, mainly because I had started managing race teams but also because Indian roads can be very dangerous. I've always owned 1000's and used to ride a little too fast so my wife sat me down and that was that. I want to buy a ZX10R now though.
Is there a lot of racing in India?
Yes, a fair amount, usually on smaller machines. Up to last year there was also a 600 championship, but unfortunately it's becoming difficult to import 600s because of customs regulations designed to protect local industry. 1000's are being imported by the factories, there just aren't enough tracks though. I'm sure that this is only a temporary phase and they will realize that you have to let the world come in as regards motorcycles.
So what was the motivation for getting into racing?
I've always been interested in racing and that interest became concrete when I ran a team - Red Rooster Racing, India's first ever fully fledged international bike racing team - in the Asian championship as a favour for a very good friend of mine. Eventually in 2010 when running Glenn Allerton we continued racing despite my better judgement due to a lack of sponsorship, we were leading the championship but we had to pull out after 3 rounds. It was a great shame.
We were told that Kawasaki wanted to talk to us at the time and the chances are that the bike that Fujiwara is riding in the Asian championship would have been ours
Everything happens for the best though and because we pulled of that championship, I could then get cracking with this team.
I started working on this team with Andrew Stone, our accomplished technical director, in April last year and it took us about six weeks to set it up. I have to say that it was one hell of a stressful ride for me because we were setting up from zero. We've been lucky in that we are working with some of the best and Kawasaki have given us their full support.
When we started racing last year we had done no testing, the racing was our testing. We just got the bikes ready, put Dan [Linfoot] and Florian [Marino] on them and we kept improving from 21st place to a third place at Magny-Cours. Getting to be front runners in a world championship in our first season is a great achievement and I really don't know what we were doing right, all I can say is that everything just came together.
The team has functioned well and was efficient enough. Even now I'm not satisfied regarding this aspect, I still want things to be better, not in terms of the results, they're OK, but in terms of how the team functions; the logistics, the support structure and the general efficiency of organisation.
It sounds as if a good part of the enjoyment for you is in running an efficient organization?