The Indian round of World Superbikes looks increasingly likely to be canceled. Rising costs and logistical problems mean that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Indian World Superbike round, scheduled for the 17th November this year at the Buddh International Circuit to go ahead.
There have been rumblings about the WSBK round for months now, but at Silverstone, the issue became ever more pressing. A report appeared on German-language website Speedweek, and several paddock sources confirmed to MotoMatters.com the problems the Indian race posed, and that their preference was for the entire event to be canceled.
At the heart of the issue is the matter of how the Indian government views motorsport. For various reasons, motorsport - of both the two- and four-wheeled variety - is not regarded as a sport, and so any motorsports event is treated as if all of the equipment necessary is an ordinary import and export operation, with all of the bureaucracy that entails. For the World Superbike paddock, this means that all of the bikes would have to be entered at customs a month before the race was set to take place, that the customs procedures would have to be started three months ahead of the November 17th date, and that the teams would have to pay import duty over the value of their equipment, and then try to claim it back again once they leave.
The race is a logistical nightmare, and a massive expense for cash-strapped teams to face. Teams have already lost large sums from the previous cancellation of the event - Speedweek quotes figures of 30,000 euros for teams with four riders - and are afraid to book flights and hotels while there is such uncertainty over the race.
There is little hope that Dorna can get the Indian government to make an exception for the World Superbike round. Even the mighty Bernie Ecclestone has been forced to reschedule the Indian round of F1 at the circuit over similar concerns, with the Indian tax and customs authorities unwilling to cooperate with Formula One. The only hope is that political forces inside of India can be mustered to change the way motorsports are regarded in India, slashing bureaucracy and ease the passage of racing vehicles in and out of the country.
If the Indian round of World Superbikes is scrapped, it will be an unwelcome development for both Dorna and the Japanese manufacturers. India is regarded as a growth market, both for motorcycle racing and for the sale of motorcycles. All parties involved are keen to go, to raise the profile of the sport and promote their brands to the 1.2 billion Indians in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
An announcement on the Indian round of World Superbikes is expected very soon, according to Speedweek. If it is canceled, then the series will terminate at Jerez on the 20th of October.