Former national rally champion Naren Kumar has pulled out of Team Sidvin India, bringing about an abrupt end to the association that was originally penned for a two-year programme in the World Rally Championship (WRC).
Naren this year became the first Indian to drive in the WRC series after signing a two-year deal with Sidvin CoreTech, a Bangalore-based software company. But for him the parting of ways has been bitter after team owner Mohan Nagarajan decided to drop the Coimbatore driver for the 2007 National champion Gaurav Gill who will be driving in the British Rally beginning Friday.
“While I am grateful to Sidvin for providing me an opportunity to drive at the highest level, I felt let down by the manner in which he removed me from the programme. There was not even a courtesy call to inform me of his decision to give Gaurav a drive. He sent me an email saying Gaurav would be driving in the final round. I would not like to be associated with a team owner who does not extend professional courtesy and so the decision to quit Team Sidvin,” Naren told IANS.
While the 28-year old Gill’s inclusion in Team Sidvin was announced recently, Naren Kumar’s decision to walk out of a two-year contract was not altogether a surprise. Considering the huge investment to the tune of about Rs. 50 million annually, the pressure was on Naren to deliver results that never came although on occasions, he was on pace with the leaders.
“I only wish Gaurav well and I am sure he is the right choice. He has put in two years in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (with Team MRF) and so I feel he is primed for P-WRC,” said the 34-year old Naren.
“The point is that when Sidvin decided to sponsor me, Mohan (Nagarajan) had no contacts in motorsport. I did all the spadework for him, like choosing the service team, the car, training programmes, etc.,. In fact, I set up the car that Gaurav is driving tomorrow. I did everything possible to ensure that we go forward.
“And, I am really disappointed that he should take a decision and being so discourteous to me. I would rather not drive than being associated with a team owner who treats me like this,” said the six times National champion.
Naren believes that he has a few more years left in him. “At this moment, I haven’t decided on my future. I am not sure whether I will be doing the P-WRC next year or return to the Indian championship.”