• One-make fun

Sirish Vissa, head of Volkswagen Motorsport India, on the Volkswagen Polo racing championship

12 years with the Polo, how has that been, especially having it in racing literally from day one?

It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve been involved with the program I think from the second race onwards as consultant and then took over at the end of 2013 and the best thing about this program is we’ve gone from strength to strength and built this, from where we were essentially just an outsider entering Indian motorsport to being the core of motorsport in India. I don’t think any of us anticipated that back then.

How does it feel to have been part of this massive motorsport program, grooming young kids and helping them step into the world of motorsport?

The cars and technology are only a part of what we are doing. More importantly we are building motorsport athletes and developing them. I think that honestly is testament to the work Rayomand Banajee and driver coaches we've had, whether Aditya Patel or Kartik Tharani, all of them and Ronny (Wechselberger) for example when he was here. I actually had parents come up and thank me at the end of the seasons, because they said that their child who was sort of, let’s say, a little unfocused, would not pay attention to getting homework done on time, changed because of what we impart in our program! Lot of parents their kids had taken said the same learnings to everything else and became better students, better kids and that is an incredible thing for us and really emotional!

The motorsport program has also always had a very holistic approach to things like fitness, apparel and more, helping streamline things. Tell us about that.

India does not have the kind of motorsport culture that other parts of the world have. So the issue is how do you teach these young kids what it takes to be a motorsport athlete. It isn’t just about driving a racecar, anybody can do that, but how do you drive a race car properly and what it takes behind the scenes before you get into the car is what makes the difference. So be it fitness, nutrition or driver coaching, it all adds up. When they are inside this little oven that the race car can be on really hot days, body temperatures elevate and when driving a racecar you are focusing on many things, like tyre grip, corners, you are trying to pass a guy in front, you have to defend against the guy behind you. So it’s like flying a fighter jet. You don’t have the G-Forces here, but still have a lot to process and to be able to do all of that, for your brain to keep up with all of that, you need to have that fitness level. That’s the biggest step and that’s where we start.

What's next from a motorsport perspective with the curtains going down on the Polo?

Couple of million dollars question! Honestly, we were very busy completing the 2021 championship and haven’t taken a breather. Normally by this time we would have everything signed off, but things are different today. We will now sit with the board and see what they would like us to do, and how we could contribute to the company and take it forward.

Leave your comment