‘Money not a Consideration’ for JK Tyre
Indian manufacturer JK Tyre was reportedly one of three large companies that forked out nearly £16 million in sponsorship in order to see the Jordan F1 team hire Narain Karthikeyan. In fact, “money was really not a consideration” when it comes to F1 sponsorship, the company told the AFP news agency.
The reason? Because when Karthikeyan revs up his engine at the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix, millions of India’s billion-strong population will tune in to the series. Some sources say that the traditionally cricket-mad nation may swap its allegiance to F1 because of Karthikeyan’s involvement, even though the popular India versus Pakistan match will take place at the same time. Suddenly tens of millions of pounds seems like a good investment in exchange for the hundreds of millions of people that could be watching, and that’s just in JK Tyre’s domestic market.
Fastest Indian on wheels
28 year old Narain Karthikeyan is India’s first F1 driver and has been described by some as the “fastest Indian on wheels.” The driver has spent the last eight years in Formula 3 and the Nissan World Series, but failed to make Formula 1 when he tested with both Jaguar and Jordan in 2001. Karthikeyan was again offered a drive by Minardi in 2003, but failed to secure the sponsorship needed by the cash-strapped team to secure his place.
This time the funds were forthcoming. The move makes economic sense for Jordan, explains AFP, particularly in light of the fact that the team’s new backer (Midland Group) is planning to invest in heavy industry in India over the next few years. “I can see money falling from trees for whoever is associated with the race,” one insider told the news agency.
“It did not take us long to agree when he told us that Jordan was willing to offer him a place,” said JK Tyres’ Sanjay Sharma, reportedly a close friend of Karthikeyan. “We had to put an Indian on the world racing map. Money was really not a consideration.”