One of the major new features of the MotoGP 2023 calendar is the inclusion of new countries in the World Championship. We have already talked about Kazakhstan, and we will now talk about the other surprise that are going to be revealed next season: India. The India Grand Prix will be the 14th race of the 2023 World Championship and will be held from 22 to 24 September next year at the Buddh circuit, located outside the city of Greater Noida, just one hour from New Delhi.
India is much more than a country. It may be the most populated nation on Earth, a position disputed with China over a few million inhabitants. It is estimated that, in 2022, India has already surpassed the figure of 1,4billion inhabitants, which gives an idea of the country’s size, both in physical terms and in its abundant variety. Greater Noida is a city with one million inhabitants located in the vicinity of New Delhi, the capital, located in the north of the country, due to which Buddh is surrounded by all the necessary basic infrastructure and accommodation.
The track, which has a capacity of 110,000 spectators, was built between 2007 and 2009, and was designed by the omnipresent Hermann Tilke. It has a long track layout, 5,137 meters in length, with 16 curves of all kinds, including tight corners.
The precedent of Formula 1
F1 reached India shortly after the construction of Buddh, in 2011, and three editions of the India World Championship have been held there. The German driver Sebastian Vettel won all three editions, also certifying his fourth and last title in this scenario in 2013. In that year, which coincided with Marc Márquez’s first MotoGP title MotoGP, you can still see the tread marks of the “donuts” left by the German when he celebrated the title with his single-seater in front of the main stand.
The track record is 1 minute, 24 seconds and 119 thousandths, Vettel’s pole in 2013, although the race record was set during the race in 2011: 1 minute, 27 seconds and 249 thousandths. What time can the MotoGP motorcycles do in their first visit to Indian track?
Since then, Buddh has not hosted any major world-class competitions, but it has not ceased its intense activity, particularly in automobiles.
Tradition on two wheels
India has enjoyed a long tradition in the motorcycling industry. There are many prestigious Indian manufacturers, which do not only manufacture for themselves, but also for other companies, or have maintained partnerships with other motorcycling industry companies. For example, until 2010, Hero maintained a close relationship with Honda, although the Japanese manufacturer no longer maintains a relationship with the Indian brand.
TVS, Bajaj, Eicher Motors—owner of Royal Enfield, the mythical British brand that went bankrupt at the end of the 1940s in the United Kingdom, but continued its production in India and which at the start of the Speed Championship was present in the 250 cc category—or Mahindra are some examples of the motorcycling industry in the country.
This last case is the most recent reference in the World Championship, present first in 125 cc in 2011 and subsequently in Moto3, from 2012 to 2017, with riders such as Marcel Schrötter, Miguel Oliveira—the first to step onto the podium with the Indian brand—Efrén Vázquez, Brad Binder, Jorge Martín, and ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia, among others. The Italian won the only two victories achieved by Mahindra, in Assen and Sepang, in 2016.
With regard to riders, India has not been heavily associated with the championship. In fact, no significant results have been obtained by any Indian rider in the Grands Prix, although under the “Road to MotoGP” program some Indian riders have been competing in the Asia Talent Cup (ATC), although with not very much success to date. This season, young rider Kavin Quintal is competing in the ATC, although he has not made a splash yet.
It is more than likely that the arrival of MotoGP to Buddh will serve to arouse Indians’ interest in motorcycling. Motorcycles have never been alien to them, but races have. However, everything could change after 2023.