The Italian kart manufacturer stepped into the Indian shores earlier this year with a full-fledged team, competing in the National Karting Championship.The Birel ART India team currently fields five young drivers with four in Micro class, while one in the senior class.
The team is headed by Marco Bartoli and together with Preetham Muniyyapa has a firm target to improve the competition at the grassroot level and help young talents secure a racing career.
“India has great potential for growth. It is a country with 1.2 billion people and there are a lot racing enthusiasts. So looking at the numbers, it made sense to come to India,” said Bartoli exclusively to Motorsport.com.
“However, there are a lot of challenges to grow India's motorsport market, because the market is still in its infancy.
"Go-karting and motorsport are still very underdeveloped, and lack the professional standards of European racing.
“India's standards in karting and motorsport are somewhat comparable to what they were in Europe in the late 70s, or early 80s.
“Birel ART's goals are to help grow the popularity of karting in India, raise the quality standards, and create a platform between India and Europe to enable Indian drivers to initially grow professionally in India and then continue their career in Europe,” the Italian added.
Globally, it runs under Birel ART name in karting series, while in championships like GP2, GP3, DTM and Formula Renault 2.0, it runs as ART Grand Prix.
They are one of the most dominant team with 55 World and European titles in kart whereas 16 titles combined in GP2 and GP3, alongwith GP2 Asia and Formula 3 Euro Series.
Benefits of joining BirelWhen asked as to what the driver will gain being with the team, Bartoli said: “Being an official Birel ART, a driver can get a lot more media exposure and significantly more appeal with potential sponsors.
“Another benefit is that we have a program where each year the highest ranked driver in the team will test with Birel ART factory team in Italy.
“This will give an opportunity to our drivers to show what they can do when testing with the factory team.
“The longer term benefit for our drivers is that we can assist them in racing in Europe and potentially climb the International motorsport ladder,” he explained.
Bartoli revealed that within eight months the planning and execution was completed for Birel ART’s entry in the country, with the initial talks held in July 2015.
Despite having all the logistics and business operation in place, the Italian says it is still ‘a work in progress’ and that they will continue to forge ahead.
“We [are and] will continue to raise the quality bar, as we move forward. But the initial image and operations of Birel ART Official Team are already a fantastic improvement compared to the current Indian standards.
“The improved quality and image standards should benefit the entire go-karting community, as well as our official drivers.”
Scouting talentCurrently, Shreyansh Jain competes in the senior class while Ruhaan Alva, Arjun R, Saathvik Raju and Kunal Vinod race in the micro class of the 2016 JK Tyre Rotax Max National Championship.
Bartoli added that the team is open to more drivers coming in and that they will expand its operations should they have larger interest.
“One of Birel ART's goals is to help Indian drivers pursue a professional motorsport career, so we welcome more Indian drivers to join the program.
“We can help them grow professionally in India, and then can assist them in climbing the racing ladder in Europe, within the Birel ART organization.
“Joining Birel ART is a great opportunity for aspiring Indian drivers, because they become part of a massive motorsport organization that can help them at 360-degrees in moving up the racing career,” he added.