Like our cars, we offer a range of rallies to suit multiple tastes

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Aug 2 2014, 07:54am hrs
As if celebrating its net profit for the quarter-ended June 30 (21% jump, year-on-year), Maruti is readying itself for yet another motorsports rallythe Dakshin Dare, which begins from August 4 in north Karnataka. Manohar Bhat, vice-president, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki, in an interaction with FEs Vikram Chaudhary, shares how the company is silently creating goodwill among motorsport enthusiasts, and how rallying gives the company interesting insights into vehicle performance under tough terrains. Excerpts:

Over the years, how has Maruti Suzuki benefited as a company by organising rallies such as Dakshin Dare and Raid de Himalaya, among others

We forayed into motorsports way back in the 1980s, teaming up with Himalayan Motorsport for the first ever Himalayan Rally. In 1999, we flagged off the Raid de Himalaya. Today, we have motorsport events spread across the country, including the upcoming Dakshin Dare. Over the years, we have been able to design rallies for amateurs and professionals. Like with our product brands, we offer a wide range of rallies to suit multiple tastes!

In a way, we have silently created goodwill among motorsport enthusiasts. Also, India is home to young population and rallying is our way of connecting with them. Further, while most of our motorsport events are open to all brands, they are an opportunity for us to showcase the capabilities and resilience of Maruti Suzuki products because, as a manufacturer, rallying gives us interesting insights into vehicle performance under tough terrains. Our engineering teams also participate in these rallies to gather performance feedback on the ground.

Do all Maruti Suzuki rallies fall under the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC)

INRC has two-day events. But our rallies are typically spread over 5-6 days. Also, the format of our rallies is different. But all our rallies are registered with the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI).

How much Maruti Suzuki annually spends on motorsports

It varies annually as it depends on the route taken, the number of segments added, the number of participants etc.

Do rallies promote safe driving in any manner

Very much. Before participating in the rally each vehicle has to pass a strict scrutiny test. It is done as per FMSCI guidelines. Two days are dedicated to thorough scrutiny process, wherein every vehicle is checked to ensure participant safety and only after it passes the same, is the vehicle allowed to participate.

Dakshin Dare will take place in northern Karnataka for the first time. Why did you decide on this location

One of the biggest challenges is to keep identifying new, challenging routes. This keeps the excitement level high among the participants. We have never forayed into north Karnataka, and hence it was an ideal location.

Unlike Toyota and Volkswagen, Maruti Suzuki does not participate in one-make races that are organised on race tracks. Why

Going by the feedback we have received from the participants, we will currently concentrate on rally raids, as they bring out the best in the vehicles. Also, ours is an open format where all manufacturers can participate. The best machinesand these may not be Maruti vehicles all the timeshare the podium. But we also have track events, called the Autocross, and it is not done on a racing track but on normal roads. Anyone with a valid driving licence and a car of any make can participate in it. The Autocross has become a stepping stone for rally drivers who then graduate to participate in our raids.