A1 Grand Prix Team India officially launched its involvement in the World Cup of Motorsport at the weekend, taking the wraps of a car resplendent in national colours at a ceremony in Delhi.

The ceremony formed part of a two-day programme during which series founder Sheikh Maktoum and franchise holder Atul Gupta were welcomed by Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh at his New Delhi residence. Dr Singh expressed his enthusiasm and support for his country's first national motorsport team, a sentiment that was echoed in the evening's speeches.

"We, as part of A1 Team India, are extremely delighted to contribute to the growth and development of the motorsport sector in India," Gupta said, "Our aim is to position motorsport within Indian sport and generate national pride while doing so. A1 Team India aims to bring high level motor racing to the common man and, through its proposed training academy, will contribute towards the development and professional training of local drivers to compete on a world stage.

"We wish to showcase India's rich vein of motorsport driving talent that is abundant in the local Asian circuits. A1 Team India aims to fast track motorsport infrastructure, giving India an equal opportunity to host the World Cup of Motorsport."

Sheikh Maktoum also spoke of the significance of including India in the first A1 Grand Prix season.

"India is the largest democracy on the planet, with over one billion people, bringing A1 Grand Prix ever closer to its goal of representing 80 per cent of the world's population," he said.

"The world has witnessed India's passion for national sports through its zealous support of international cricket and squash, and now, through A1 Grand Prix, the people of India have their first opportunity to be represented in the exclusive world of motorsport on a level playing field with the developed world.

"With the possibility of racing for their own national team, young Indian drivers now have the chance to compete on the international stage. Alongside this, Indian business can promote their skills and technology by sponsoring their national team, demonstrating India's formidable economic power on a global scale."

A1 Team India's president, high-profile Bollywood film star Anil Kapoor, was also present at the launch, and spoke of his desire to promote his homeland through motorsport.

"We are looking forward to the A1 series and this could very well be the next biggest sport since cricket," he admitted, "From my side, I am going to ensure that India
is represented with a sense of optimism and eagerness. We want the world to see that India is both efficient and responsible in this endeavour."

The launch ended as Sheikh Maktoum drove the A1 Grand Prix car through the streets of Delhi, the first time that a high-powered single seat race car has run in India.



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