India has immense sporting talent but not enough opportunities for this talent to shine. When we look at the motorsporting world, India has a lot of catching up to do. To usher in a new era in the motorsporting domain in India, Akhilesh Reddy, Director MEIL and Chairman, RPPL (Racing Promotions Pvt Ltd) is opening up opportunities to aspiring Indian racing drivers to take up the sport more seriously by bringing F3 and F4 racing to India. Reddy recently spoke to IMPACT about his new league and the opportunities it brings for motorsporting enthusiasts and brands looking for new marketing opportunities.
Q] What is your larger purpose and goal behind organising Formula 3 and Formula 4 racing league? What is your vision for RPPL?
The vision of racing promotions and its initiatives in F3 and F4 is to take an all-Indian team to F1 in the next 5-7 years and an all-Indian women team to F2 in the next 10-12 years. From a purely commercial standpoint, F3 and F4 add a lot of technical legitimacy to our offerings, including the Indian racing league, given the FIA points that come with them. They will attract the international racing fraternity to India, and subsequently, suppliers to the global auto-racing industry. By running not one but two FIA sanctioned championships, the profile of Indian racing will be elevated in the global rankings, and this will attract viewership that will translate to commercial success in the 4 to 5-year horizon.
Q] Apart from the fact that this will be the first time that a FIA sanctioned championship will be organised in India, what is the uniqueness of this league?
F3 and F4 are FIA-sanctioned championships and hence will be run under the rules and regulations of the FIA, following the protocols set by the racing commission for the respective championships. But what is unique is that it will be the first time that an FIA-sanctioned championship will be held in India. My vision is to make India a strong player in the motorsports world, and open up opportunities to aspiring Indian racing drivers to take up the sport more seriously as they have the platform to graduate to the top right in their home ground.
Q] In your view, what will be the big drivers of success for this league?
I would say the strength of our distribution (broadcast, social media), the profile of the team owners, and quality of sponsors (more non-endemic than the endemics) will be the drivers of success, besides the fundamental factors - high-quality racing, world-class broadcast, and fan engagement.
Q] Have you finalised any broadcaster for the league?
At this stage we are in discussion with all the key broadcasters in India, both TV and OTT, including Star, Sony, Discovery, Voot, Jio, etc.
Q] Tell us about the owners of the league?
The league is wholly owned and operated by Racing Promotions, which is majority-owned by me (Akhilesh Reddy) and Ameet Ghadoke, through our parent businesses. The acquisition of Racing Promotions was completed in September 2021.
Q] What is your marketing strategy for RPPL?
We have a 360° marketing plan, which includes Radio, TV, OOH along with extensive on-ground engagement via simracing and karting. We will be conducting simracing (virtual racing) and karting for two weeks in each of the franchise cities over six months leading up to the league seasons, which will be the longest activation by any sporting league in India.
Q] What kind of investments have you made in this league so far?
We have already invested over 150Cr in equipment, cars, licenses from local govt, and permissions/sanctions from the FIA, street circuit infrastructure and a racing track.
The following factors are the key USPs of the Indian racing festival - equal opportunities (men and women drivers), deep fan and grassroots activation (simracing and karting in every franchise city), multiple venues (travelling around the country), street circuit (a never seen before concept in India, both from a sporting and technical perspective), international racing driver fraternity (F3 and F4 will attract top global talent), celebs (celebrity team owners), and multiple championships (3 championships in 1 weekend, offering more races and more action on a per day basis).
All the above factors give a wide range of brands the right reasons to associate with racing promotions. Women centric brands can build on the equal opportunities, whereas Made-in-India brands can support the first-of-its-kind street circuit. Endemic brands such as tyres, fuel, lubricant companies, etc. will come for the quality of racing and drivers, while FMCG and D2C brands will come for the long activation leading up to the league. We have created a package for everyone, and we strongly believe that there is a strong commercial fundamental for all stakeholders to derive ROI from.