'In the T1 C'ship itself, we can maybe have an Ultra or a pickup race.'
The growing response to the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship is giving Tata Motors new ideas like grooming a set of Indian race drivers and expanding the event to include other brands.
The T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship is only two years old but the response it is getting is giving Tata Motors new ideas like grooming a set of Indian truck drivers for racing and perhaps expanding the championship to include other brands. Ravi Pisharody, ED (Commercial Vehicles), Tata Motors, shares his thoughts with Sumantra B Barooah about shaping up the event in the future.
We have already seen some changes this year. How do you plan to take this initiative ahead, say over the next five years?
One thing is that we are very serious now. We will start a programme to get in Indian race drivers. We are starting with all our dealers and customers, we are interviewing both technically and attitude-wise. Finally, we will keep shortlisting to get a team of 24 people who will then be trained abroad on race tracks. And, if all goes well, we are planning by March 2016 to also have an Indian drivers’ race. So we are really taking a very challenging assignment.
I am not making any commitments. But if it’s not March 2016, then definitely it will be 2017. But clearly we want to build it as an aspirational race. So today, they are just coming to watch but later on they will be cheering their own teams in the race.
What kind of a rub-off effect do you expect the championship to have on the Prima's market performance?
The Prima brand is now really going to go places. It is the first brand name we are using in M&HCVs. We have had the Ace, Winger and Magic. But M&HCVs were always like 4018, 4923. But now it’s a brand. Now we have another brand in Ultra.
Is there any scope in key export markets in Africa, Middle East markets for the T1 initiative?
Early thoughts. Of course, there is scope because what I realised is truck racing is not very common outside Europe and the USA. So we are not just first in India, we are also first in large parts of Asia also. So there is an opportunity, but we need a brand. Tata Motors is a brand in India. We need that sort of brand heritage to do that particularly the way we are doing here with Tata trucks. As we have more international participation (of business partners) here, we will be thinking about it. We will have some more ideas from them; they may also feel we can do it in Kenya or Nigeria if not a very developed market like South Africa.
You have the Prima as the top-end and now you have the Ultra in another range. Would you look at a championship for different categories, maybe a separate category for the Ultra brand of trucks?
Not thought about it yet but maybe. We still have to spend a few years creating the Prima brand. Maybe we won’t have another event but in this event itself we can have an Ultra race or a pickup race. These are things which we should be looking at.
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