Top Indian riders to showcase skills along with 24 foreign stars at ISRL
Pune, 27 January 2024: The vibrant city of Pune, a cradle for top Indian motocross riders, witnessed an extraordinary day of excitement and thrill as the CEAT Indian Supercross Racing League (ISRL) made its much-awaited debut to create a memorable milestone in the history of Indian motorsports. The free-practice under floodlights, here on Saturday, saw the cream of talent from around the world, with 24 international riders joining the top Indian riders ahead of the first round of ISRL on Sunday.
The world's first franchise-based Supercross league, in collaboration with the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), is a groundbreaking initiative with six teams in fray and is all set to revolutionise motorsports in India. Supercross, the thrilling motorsport spectacle that marries off-road motorcycle racing with gravity-defying jumps, has quietly been making its presence felt on Indian soil. While it may not have yet reached the zenith of recognition enjoyed by its international counterparts, the winds of change are sweeping across the subcontinent’s motorsports landscape and the launch of ISRL is set to revolutionise the sport in India.
The only discipline in India which attracts huge crowds of over 20,000 for every event, provided an awe-inspiring spectacle, on the tight and technical track which was hurriedly created within 48 hours after overcoming many a challenge that a first-time big event undergoes. Around 650 trucks of mud and the toil of hundreds of dedicated workers saw the track become ready in a jiffy, and the riders thoroughly enjoyed the practice run with a few of them catching the cynosure, playing to the gallery with huge jumps and speedy runs.
“The league provides a safe and competitive environment for riders of all ages and skill levels. The league believes in giving back to the community and partnering with local organisations to promote youth development and environmental sustainability,” said Veer Patil, the double Indian National champion in Motocross. Along with brothers Eashan Lokhande and Ashwin Lokhande, the trio, made their dream a reality on Saturday. “The idea was brewing from 2015. I am so happy that finally the day of reckoning is here,” quipped Eeshan Lokahnde after the practice session.
“This is a fantastic concept that provides a springboard for the youngsters to not only showcase their talent but also to rub shoulders with the top riders and learn the tricks of the trade, and to polish their wares. Success is a by-product but as a racer myself with all the experience, I understand them well and we provide an environment for safe learning and blossoming their talent. I am looking forward to a good season,” said CS Santosh, the architect of Team BigRock Motorsports.
“Honestly it is a new team but definitely the exciting days are back. I started as a factory rider for TVS in Motocross and now being on the other side managing the team I understand the mindset of the youngsters and have the experience to give whatever gyan I can give. It is a team game and a best chance for the youngsters to learn and display their skills,” said Arjuna Awardee Gaurav Gill, who is the mentor and team ambassador of Gujrat Trailblazers.
The driving force behind this endeavour was an unwavering love for the sport. Eeshan Lokhande, reflecting on the journey, notes: “The sport has given a lot of identity, a lot of character to all three of us.” It was this sense of indebtedness to Supercross, coupled with an unshakable desire to give back, that propelled them beyond mere spectators and into the realm of game-changers.
“The Supercross League was more than a mere event; it was a manifestation of a profound commitment to nurturing the sport’s growth in India.” Instead of basking in the glory bestowed by Supercross, the trio set out to forge a lasting legacy. Eeshan Lokhande succinctly encapsulates their mission, stating: “Our whole idea has always been to give something back to the sport. Not to walk away from something that gave us so much.”
There will be six teams in fray with four foreign riders and four Indian riders. Each team will have two riders each inn four classes. There are two classes for international riders and two classes, including the Junior 85cc class for Indians. The 450cc class will be the top class only for international riders while the two 250cc classes will be for both Indian and foreign riders. The teams will garner points at each of the rounds and the table toppers will be declared champions at the final round in Delhi. The auction last month saw the teams grab the top players, who will all benefit for the first to get returns out of the sport they love so much.
The five teams in the fray are Panchshil Racing, BigRock Motorsports, Gujarat Trailblazers, Reise Motorsports, SG Speed Racers and Mohite’s Racing Team.
Some of the top Indian stars in fray are Rugved Barguje, Prajwal Vishwanath, Ikkshaan Shanbagh, Shlok Ghorpade, Jinendra Sangave and Sarthak Chavan along with Junior riders Nithila Das, Aleena Shaik, Bhairav Gowda, akshat Hupale, Sujan Jeeva, Yash Shinde and Bhairav Gowda. The top foreign stars include Jordi Tixier, Nick Laurie, Matt Moss, Cedric Soubeyras, Reid Taylor, Tyler Bowers, Jake Preston, Thomas Ramette, Nico Koch, Anthony Raynard, Lorenzo Camporese, Boris Maillard and Charles Lefrancois
The races at 6pm on Sunday will be live telecast by Viacom Sports18 channel and will also be live streamed on the Jio App.