Rajini Krishnan: "Need more manufacturers in National championship"
Rajini Krishnan feels more manufacturers should compete in the Indian National Motorcycle Racing championship for the best talent to come through, to represent the country in international competition.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, the Chennai-based rider spoke about his academy and team R.A.C.R (Rajini Academy of Competitive Racing), also elaborating on his career and the plans ahead.
The nine-time National champion expressed his sadness over lack of support towards his career and felt the need for Indian manufacturers to compete against each other, so as to bring the best out the young riders.
What do you make of the competition now from your time?
It's not very different from my time, the number of manufacturers has increased but not in the national championship. They should support the championship because in one-make, which they do, everyone is riding the same bike where the competition is less.
The one-make allows the manufacturer to get enough coverage but the riders, they don't get much. I would like to see then competing in national championship rather than individually. It might change in the future but the sooner, the better.
What do you think they can do? Do you think, they should keep the Novice category and get the senior category in the national championship and compete as teams?
Yes, that could be a good way to go because there are already enough categories with different one-make and sub-categories
The end result is too many races in a weekend whereas in international competitions, they have few categories but big competition among various manufacturers.
Let's talk about your team and academy R.A.C.R, how did it come up?
I having been racing for almost 15 years in India and abroad and so I wanted to help the Indian riders who want to take the next level. I want to share my experiences with young riders, that’s the primary reason to start the academy.
Since launching in September 2015, we have had training camps at Buddh circuit, in Coimbatore, Bangalore and Chennai, it is great to see so many youngsters coming, it gives me the chance to guide them and help them progress.
What about bikes? I see different manufacturers here.
Yes, for my team, we use Yamaha bikes, we are not tied up with them. For my academy, we are tied up with TVS Racing, who provides us about 20 RTR Apache 180cc bikes for training purpose.
Who are the one's we should look to and what's the plan ahead?
There are some good riders like Prabhu, Deepak and Dinesh, they are the top one's at the moment. The plan with academy is to get a youngster to the top level of racing with minimal cost and maybe even free.
Free because I know how hard it is to survive, but for this to happen we need support from a factory team or sponsor. It’s going good till now but we are always looking for sponsors. There are a lot of youngsters who are capable to ride international championship, but money is a big problem.
Now if we look at your career, what was the most difficult aspect to adapt to when you went international?
When I first went international, I struggled with experience. Because in India we only race during the races but elsewhere, they are practicing every time. During a race weekend, they can lap good times in practice and for me I am catching those times only in the races.
That's the problem because I cannot match them in all the sessions as by the time I reach to their level with all the experience and set-up changes, they are already ahead of me.
What about your current run? Podiums in Malaysian championship, win in China Superbikes.
Yes, it has been a good season till now but still difficult in terms of budget. I am concentrating on defending my Malaysian Superbikes title with Kawasaki but because they are not a factory team, I have to find the budget to compete.
Whereas the win in China as guest rider of the Kawasaki factory team was extremely satisfying.
And what about your future plans? MotoGP or World Superbikes?
There are opportunities in WSBK but we need manufacturer support especially from India to make it happen. Budget is the main roadblock to compete in WSBK because to race full championship, it requires at least four to five crores (of Indian money).
Outside that, I am looking at Spanish championship where the budget is about one crore (INR), that again is down to the manufacturer support. Even after winning the Malaysian SBK with Kawasaki, I haven't had any support from the manufacturer, even from their Indian HQ, despite requests.
Whereas if you see in Malaysia they have so many riders racing international because they have the factory as well as Government support. If you are own country doesn't support, you cannot expect others to support you.
This is another reason for the academy where young riders will overcome some difficulties in this area as the talent is in abundance but money creates the barrier.
You are 35 now, how long we see Rajini Krishnan racing?
Let's see, I haven't thought about that but probably I would race for three more years. But should I get an opportunity to race at a higher level then I will continue for longer than that.
Whether I race in WSBK or Asia Road Racing Championship, I'll need sponsors. The championships at higher level is big and so competing privately is not possible.
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