Mahindra calls time on its Moto3 Programme
Posted by Darshan Chokhani on 26/06/2017

Mahindra calls time on its Moto3 Programme

In a surprising news late on Sunday, Mahindra Racing announced its departure from the Moto3 World Championship at the end of the 2017 season.

The Indian manufacturer which entered the 125cc class during the 2011 season, had stayed put in the revamped Moto3 class from 2012 until now.

It started its journey as a team first, but changed its mandate to being manufacturer-only from 2015 onwards.

The conglomerate together with its factory outfit Aspar and sister brand Peugeot, unlocked a major achievement in 2016 when Francesco Bagnaia (Assen & Sepang) and John McPhee (Brno) claimed race wins - riding the Indian flag high.

But the results turned the tables this season as the rookie rider combination meant Mahindra had an uphill task to not only develop the MGP3O, but also keep it in line to the style of the different riders within its stable.

So far in the eight races, Mahindra has three 14th place finishes (with Aspar & CIP), while sister brand Peugeot has a best finish of 11th - a stark downfall from 2016.

At the same time, its Formula E outfit is gaining strong momentum, especially after scoring its first win in the recently concluded Berlin ePrix.

"Our strategic review of Mahindra Racing and Mahindra’s two-wheeler businesses led us to the decision to withdraw from MotoGP," said Ruzbeh Irani, Mahindra Group’s President of Group Communications & Ethics, and Chief Brand Officer.

"It has been a tremendous journey, and we would like to thank all of our staff, partners and collaborators who have contributed to our success during our seven years in the sport.

"Formula E is providing us with an excellent international platform to raise awareness of the Mahindra Group, our technological capabilities and our mobility solutions on a global scale."

With 13 podium finishes so far, including three wins in its seventh year of racing, Mahindra's reputation grew stronger as it took on the likes of Honda and KTM.

Its presence in the junior championships in the CEV and CIV also provided a solid ladder for young riders aspiring to compete in the FIM World Championship.

The news comes as a shock to me, especially after recently speaking with its CEO Mufaddal Choonia, who seemed quite happy with the progress shown by the Indian manufacturer, which had no prior racing experience.

But logically seeing the decision, with the team and rider combination needing to be perfect as seen in the case of Bagnaia - a championship victory for Mahindra would then be largely based on factors outside the manufacturer's control during a particular season.

Plus a constant need of pumping in finances for a year-long development, it is indeed a challenge to sustain good results over a period of time for anyone.

Also the prospect of a Dakar bid with its modified XUV 500 machinery, and further success in Formula E - it perhaps meant little was left to put into Moto3, even though they had started its new base at Besozzo.

But looking at the withdrawal in terms of Indian motorsport, it's definitely a huge dent since Mahindra had become a solid name in the two-wheel circuit racing department.

The fans had an Indian name to look to in the world stage, racing against Honda and KTM, especially with MotoGP seen as a popular series in the country.

With Mahindra's departure, the two-wheel section now depends upon TVS and Hero MotoCorp, which competes solely in the cross-country rallies internationally.

Whatever the pros and cons be for the decision, it is indeed a disappointing news for fans around the world - it's never good for anyone to see a manufacturer pull the plug on its racing programme.

But a deserved pat on the back to Mahindra and the whole management to put its time and effort for seven years (and more, behind the scenes) - they certainly achieved something which will be a challenge for any new manufacturer entering in the championship.

[Image courtesy: Aspar]