Karun Chandhok answers your motorsport queries: Part 1
I am a huge Formula 1 fan. Now I am 22 years old and I would like to break into motorsport. What should I do at this point in my life to start a career in motorsport with Formula 1 as the ultimate aim?
Let me start with the bad news - to be perfectly honest, starting at the age of 22 is going to be a big disadvantage. You have to be realistic and know that 99 per cent chances are you're not going to have an opportunity to make a career as a Formula 1 driver. However, the good news is that there is plenty of life outside Formula 1 in sportscars, GT Racing and touring cars. In India, you can start with trying to enter the VW Vento Cup which is a one make series that is run by Volkswagen as that could be a good way to see what level you're at. Since all the drivers will compete in identical machinery, the results are almost entirely down to driver skill, and this is the best way for you to see exactly where you stand as a racecar driver. If you're good, that could potentially attract some financial backing from Volkswagen and JK Tyre who are the supporters of the series. From there, you could look at Asian Touring cars or GT Asia as the next step to forging a career in these forms of racing.
I am a mechanical engineer in a multinational company, but I have been wanting to get into the sport of rallying for a long time now. However, I have no idea how to start. Can you please guide me?
The Indian Rally Championship rounds that are held all across the country now have been attracting some decent grids of late. There are quite a few people who can prepare cars for you in a safe and competitive way and your best options are to speak to one of them. Teams like Red Rooster Racing in Coimbatore or Slideways Industries in Pune are just two such options that you could speak to and they will be able to guide you regarding the costs and options. Rallying can be a lot of fun but you also need a good team and navigator so again, to begin with, I would suggest asking the team to recommend someone with experience to navigate for you rather than just taking along one of your friends. There is also the fact that there are various categories within the IRC, and depending on your skill as a driver and your budget, the teams will be able to assess which category is best suited to you.
I am 22 years old and it has been my ambition to be a racing driver ever since I was five. This year I registered for the Volkswagen Vento Cup and was selected to drive,but I missed the sponsorship deadline. I lack marketing skills and I don't have the
money to fund myself in the sport. I have every intention of trying again next year when I am better prepared in terms of funds. Is there a way that I can gain sponsors? Raising sponsorship is always the hardest thing in this sport. There really is no easy way or perfect solution and you do need to be able to present a case to sponsors in terms of giving them a return on their investment in you. In many cases, sponsorship stems from one key person in an organisation being passionate about the sport or about supporting young sporting talent.
Often these days, it's about putting together business-to-business deals between companies and getting them to invest the profit from their deals into your racing. These sort of deals take time but they could be worthwhile and the sponsors feel like they are
getting something tangible back rather than just a couple of stickers on a car. You need to think a little laterally as these deals happen in unlikely places as well. For example, you could introduce a logistics company to a phone manufacturer and try to broker a deal for them to gain business and the profits from that business come back into funding your racing. Building up your personal brand value is also very important so is getting a relationship with the media. And putting your name out in the public eye is crucial in order for a racer to deliver a return on investment to sponsors.
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