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Pushing for victories: momentum with Mahindra

Pushing for victories: momentum with Mahindra

Mahindra Racing narrowly missed out on a rostrum finish in the season-opening Qatar Moto3™ race. However, Chief Executive Officer Mufaddal Choonia is confident that numerous race wins can be celebrated across the 2014 season…

It has certainly been a solid start to 2014 for Mahindra…
Yes, we just missed out on the podium. It was a positive start. We saw two Mahindra bikes in the points; one was a customer bike, with Brad Binder and Ambrogio Racing, and the other was that of Miguel (Oliveira) who missed out on the podium by practically nothing…he was almost there. What was particularly encouraging was the time gap between Miguel and race winner Jack Miller (0.295 seconds). The bike was competitive and very consistent. That was very good for us.

One irony was that the rider who stole the podium position from Miguel Oliveira was his team-mate from last year: Efren Vazquez.
Yes, very ironic! But that is racing and now Efren can enjoy his podium.

Mahindra has the second largest amount of bikes of any manufacturer on the Moto3™ grid, with two factory machines and six customer bikes. What does that say about the company’s commitment to Grand Prix racing?
We are very humbled about that fact. It is something that is great for Mahindra and great for India as a whole country, from both a competition and engineer side of things. It is a country never largely represented in MotoGP™ so, for a manufacturer like us to come in and establish some sort of credibility is great for MotoGP™ as a sport. A whole new host of fans are now interested in MotoGP™. We have close to one and a half million fans on Facebook, which is the third-highest for any motorcycle team in the world – let alone those in MotoGP™.

As the season progresses, what sort of time gap should we expect to see between the factory Mahindra bikes and the customer machines? Are the customer bikes receiving new material and upgrades on a regular basis?
The time gap will vary a bit, but I just hope for it to be as small as possible. We have supplied all customers with the same package, which we have been working on for a long time and know very, very well. It will take some time for the customer teams to get to know it and they do have some catch up to do, but we are confident that they can do well. They have very good support staff working with them and all of the necessary support from the factory, so I just hope that at least one rider from each of the customer teams can be capable of catching the factory riders.

In terms of updates for the customer bikes: yes, they will be quite regular. As far as the chassis is concerned, we are working quite rigorously on aerodynamics and we hope to introduce some improvements to the aero package over the European summer. We are doing a lot of fluid analysis of the entire airflow system on the bike, which is the air dam, air box and all of that sort of thing. I can’t say exactly when every improvement is going to be kicking in, but – apart from the engines – we are working very hard on upgrades, which includes a new exhaust system.

With the factory team in particular - and bearing in mind Miguel Oliveira’s performance in Qatar - what is the general target for the year?
I wish I could look into the future [laughs]. Of course, anybody you ask this question will always give you the same answer because nobody wants to come second. What I can tell you is that we will fight for the podium in every race…and why only that? We intend to challenge for victory in every race, as will everybody else who wants to come first! Let’s see where we land. We hope a few wins to reach our doorstep this season – and sooner rather than later!

Moto3, 2014, Mahindra Racing

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