Royal Enfield’s motorsports push in India and expansion plans explained – Times of India

We are just days way from the Grand Finale of the Royal Enfield GT Cup racing series, which is in its second season this year. One of the few motorsport events that take place in India, the GT Cup is a ‘one-make’ racing series designed to promote retro-racing in the country. TOI Auto caught up with Adrian Sellers, Custom Programme Lead and Manager, Product Strategy and Industrial Design, Royal Enfield, to get updates on season 2 and to gauge RE’s plans to expand the racing series in the country.
For season 2, Royal Enfield introduced the Pro-Am (professional-amateur) format of racing in the GT Cup. Under Pro-Am, there are 10 professional riders and 15 amateur riders on the grid at the same time. “The Pro-Am format has allowed us to sort of have two races within one race. To reward the less experienced riders who are performing well, we encourage them as they are the winners of the second race. This keeps them coming back for more and keeps their enthusiasm high over the long weekend. In the end, it just so happens that some of the amateurs are quicker than other pros, which goes to show that some people are just meant for it.” Sellers tells TOI Auto.

According to Sellers, the core idea behind the GT Cup is to make racing accessible to everybody and to leverage the talent of riders out there. “From a social perspective, people are really excited that Royal Enfield is hosting a racing event here in India. As you know there aren’t enough racing events in the country, there needs to be more. India is such a massive motorcycle market in the world but from a motorcycle racing perspective it is one of the smallest and we hope to be a part of growing that.” He added.
To kindle the spirit of racing amongst young riders the one-make format puts rider against rider, as all motorcycles are identical and any advantage or win depends upon a rider’s skill. However, the GT Cup is not just a brand promotional exercise by any means, it is a legitimate track racing experience and the bikes are the proof. The GT Cup motorcycles get a race faring, increased ground clearance, track focused suspension, upgraded brake system and brake pads. Sellers tells TOI Auto, “The participants are very excited and love the changes to the bike, the adjustments to the suspension, the riding position and so on. That really helps them to take it on the track, many of these racers are coming from small bikes and getting up on a big 650 cc twin is a huge difference in power.”


However, considering the massive support and enthusiasm for the GT Cup, why do we not see other manufacturers invest in motorsports in India? To this, Adrian Sellers said, “Honestly I have no idea, its baffling, if you look at others South-East Asian markets that are also big two-wheeler markets, there is the presence of very strong amateur and pro races, I don’t know why it hasn’t taken off in India but that doesn’t mean it can’t and that is what we are trying to do here. Growing the racing scene in India and maturing it.”
“I would love to take the GT Cup further, would love to expand it throughout India. Our biggest limitation right now is there aren’t as many tracks because there hasn’t been that much racing in the country. I hope as people become more aware and upcoming MotoGP developments create more engagement, it also creates the possibility for more investment in track infrastructure in India so we can take the GT Cup to more cities allowing more people to engage.”


While India may not have an extensive track list, performance-car manufacturers periodically organise teaser events for their products that allow people to experience the cars in a closed circuit. Can Royal Enfield do the same with the GT Cup as a short-term solution? “It is tricky with our format to not be on an actual track, it is a racing series, it is more than just having a go on a performance vehicle, it is the experience of the racing itself which makes it a bit trickier. Having said that, we are trying to figure out short-term solutions where we can bring out the excitement, maybe not in the same exact way but just a little bit. Wait to see what we come up with. It does take time and quite a bit of money.” Sellers said.
He also stated that if motorsports are only being promoted by a select few manufacturers in the country, then it is unlikely to grow at the pace in which it needs to. However, if several automakers pledge that motor sports is something they care about and want to do, then for investors and government, it will become a much easier decision.

Left - Adrian Sellers, Custom Programme Lead and Manager, Product Strategy and Industrial Design, Royal Enfield.

Left – Adrian Sellers, Custom Programme Lead and Manager, Product Strategy and Industrial Design, Royal Enfield.

The culmination of GT Cup season 2’s three rounds and eight races will be revealed in the Grand Finale race at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, between December 16 to 18. The season is being held in accordance with the regulations of the Federation of Motorsports Club of India.
What are your thoughts on the current state of motorsports in India? Can it go more mainstream? Tell us in the comments.

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