Pune: Just over a month after India hosted the grand finale of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in the Coffee Estates of Chikamagalur, there are indications that India could get a round of the FIA World Rally Championship as early as 2019.
A four-member Indian delegation will be leaving for Sweden where they will witness Rally Sweden in February and observe the event in preparation for the proposed rally.
“World Rally Championship in India will be fantastic news for Indian motorsports. We hosted Formula One for three seasons, but this will be really big if it at all happens so early,” is how Pune rally driver Sanjay Takale reacted to the news.
Takale, who won Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) Production Cup in 2013, said he would eagerly look for WRC to come to India even as he prepares to enter in the premier rally championship next year.
Vicky Chandhok, the President of the APRC Working Group, has confirmed that talks are being held with WRC managing director Oliver Ciesla over a possible round in India.
A team of four representatives, led by veteran Indian rally driver Farokh Commissariat, will visit three more WRC rounds in 2017 apart from Sweden to further assist their planning.
Chandhok said his team was looking at two options with regards to the exact venue for an Indian WRC round.
One is at the foothills of Himalayas, which is at a higher altitude in Northern India, which hosts biggest cross-country rally, the Raid de Himalaya, though it takes place in the mountain ranges of the Himalayas.
The WRC round, if it happens, is being proposed to be hosted at a lower altitude on the foothills.
The second proposed venue is the coffee estates in Chikamagalur, which received great reviews after December 3-5 event.
While 2019 has been set as the target date for the inaugural Indian WRC round, Chandhok did not discount the possibility of arranging a deal in time for the 2018 season.
“I am preparing for a full WRC season for 2018 and if WRC comes to India nothing could be better for a rally enthusiast like me. We have dreamt for it for years and to see WRC coming to India would be icing on the cake,” said Takale, who has planned to take part in a few European rallies in the first half of this year before returning to APRC for the Asian swing.