New Delhi, Nov 28: India will witness one of its kind motorsport competition, X1Racing League in the coming weekend. X1Racing League is a franchise-based motorsports competition which will kick-start on November 30-December 1 at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.
The X1Racing League will have six teams comprising of five drivers and two cars in each team. Of the five drivers in each team, there will be one international male, one international female, an India international and two domestic racers.
International racers like Mathias Lauda, Alex Yoong, Mikel Jensen, Michelle Gatting, Pippa Mann, Rahel Frey, and India's very own Arjun Maini and Gaurav Gill are going to participate in the two-city event that culminates on December 7-8 with the second and final round at the Madras Motor Race Track in Chennai.
The inaugural season of the league aims to revive the stagnant motorsport scene in India by increasing the interest of young and passionate youth towards the sport. The competition is founded by racers Armaan Ebrahim and Aditya Patel and aims at helping them transition from specially designed mobile games to motor simulators and eventually preparing them to take up racing on the track.
The league will see six teams fighting it out for the title. A total of 30 international and domestic racers have been drafted in six teams for the first edition of the competition.
One of the domestic racers will represent the team in the race. Each round will take place over two days, with each day starting with a practice session, followed by qualifying and three back-to-back races.
Talking with MyKhel Abhinandan Balasubramanian, the CEO of X1Racing League revealed how they are planning to revive the sport, providing a platform to the international female drivers, and helping the youth to build a career in motorsport.
Mykhel: What is the format of this league and how are you going about it?
Abhinandan Balasubramanian: The race formats that we have come up with are pretty unique. The first one is for qualifying the race and there's a mandatory pit stop in it. So one driver gets out there and another replaces him. The second race is very unique for it is a complete reverse grid where the team finishing first in the first race starts last and vice versa. So, this is a unique format and first of its kind.
The third format that we have is the relay format in which instead of two cars per team on the grid, there's only one car per team on the track. After completing 5-7 laps of racing the first car comes in and the second car goes out on the grid. So, it will be like a 'tag-team' match that we witness in professional wrestling. The points are based on cars and not individual drivers to make it a team game.
MK: What are the key takeaways from this league and how do you think it's going to the help Indian motorsport?
AB: Two main takeaways behind this league are: providing a platform to the Indian motor racers a platform where they can drive with international racers, learn from them and even showcase their talent. This means they will be competing on equal machinery and they have the chance to show their ability against the best in the world.
The other one is giving exposure to talented international women racers. Motorsport is a unisex sport and what we are trying to do is make it mainstream and make them compete with and against male racers. This will help us alleviate the profile of motorsport as a whole and market it to a larger segment of the audience which has not been captured i.e. the women's segment.
MK: What is the role of eSports in this league and how do you intend to capture the larger market?
AB: Our partnership with eSports played a major role in that. We organised various rounds of X1 eSports League in colleges and malls across eight cities in India.
Participants compete on an eSports racing simulator over seven days in each city, and the top 50 individuals with the best lap times then moved on to the finals. Five winners with the best lap times were announced at the end of the competition and they will not get the chance to be part of a professional racing team and test drive the X1 Racing League car. Additionally, winners also received training for professional racing from Ebrahim and Patel.
In the first season of the eSports league, we have witnessed participation from 25000-plus people. We are the biggest Simulator competition racing series in Asia right now and we achieved it in the very first year of launch. We have had participants travelling from three different cities to try their luck out in the national finals so the craze about the eSports league is catching up. Moto racing is the only sport where you can transition from a simulator athlete to a real track racer.
What we've seen this year is that there is a huge base of an enthusiastic crowd in this segment. Hence, one of our plans for the next year, along with eSports, is that we are going to partner with a mobile gaming platform, one of the largest in India, and we are going mobile-first. So, the primary filtering will be on mobile. So whilst we reached out to 25000 participants this year, next year - with the help of the mobile gaming platform - we'll get around 2.5 million participants and then trickle them down to a thousand per city and then bring simulator for each city. Anyone above the age of 15 years will be eligible to register.
MK: What was the idea behind bringing in big names to the league?
AB: If we bring in well-known international names they will talk about this experience with their peers back in their countries and that would help change in attitude towards Indian motorsport globally. It will probably bring in more manufacturers, more motorsport events in the country. So what we are doing is developing and promoting motorsport in the country and giving our drivers like Gaurav Gill, Arjun Maini or Akhil a chance to showcase their talents in front of Indian audiences and watching them do well at home will bring pride to our people as well. So, that's what we intend to do.