The youngest of all the motorcycle companies in India has probably gone and achieved success where even the biggies who have dominated this multi-million business haven’t ventured forth.
That in essence encapsulates the bold move of Mahindra Racing in the big bad dog-eat-dog arena of World Championship Moto3 racing. In just its third season to date, it threatened many a time this year to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds and came agonisingly close to a podium finish. However on Sunday in Sepang, they weren’t to be denied as young Portuguese rider Miguel Oliviera put Mahindra and India on the biggest stage in global bike sport with a storming third place.
Miguel who had qualified fourth to start from the second row had a horrible get away; his bike bogging down and almost 20 riders passed him going into turn 1. This only spurred him on and he started scything through the pack, finishing lap 1 in 14th spot and just piling on the pressure to challenge those up ahead. Slowly but inexorably he dragged his Mahindra MGP030 (pronounced oh-three-oh) through a top class field so that by lap 10 of this 18-lap affair he had caught the runaway leaders. This quartet of four then diced and exchanged places virtually every lap in a right royal battle that made predicting the winner an impossibility. Unlike in the past races where Oliviera and his teammate Efren Vasquez have been up with the leaders they used to suffer from acceleration out of the corners but this time round the Mahindra Racing crew had managed to make the bike a bit more responsive to run with the best of the KTMs and the Hondas and it helped.
Going into the last two laps Oliviera had the red and white Mahindra MGP030 right in the mix, at one point hitting the front of the pack as well only for the faster KTMs of Luis Salom and Alex Rins streaking ahead of him on the long Sepang straights. With another two KTMs on his tail and a couple of fast Hondas catching up with the leading quartet it was absolute skill and nerves on the part of the riders and mechanical ability and performance form their machines which would win the day and here Oliviera did enough to outfox everyone but Salom and Rins to finish third, just 0.408 seconds behind the winner!
That, however, was light years ahead for a nation starved of success on the two-wheeled front, especially given India is the second largest bike market in the world and has three of the world’s biggest bike makers in the fray – Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and Honda and barring the latter through its Japanese and European arms none of the others has ventured to get into bike sport in India, let alone on the global stage.
Mahindra 2 Wheelers, is but a veritable kid amongst this trio, maybe the smallest Indian OEM going but its ambitions are huge. That it had got into motorcycle racing on the global stage itself was evidence enough but not many were aware. Now they would have to sit up and take notice, as have KTM and Honda and many others on the global stage. Now only two more steps to climb, we think!