Poor track, lack of seats mar overwhelming response to street racing event

Update: 2022-11-20 18:31 GMT
Crowds cheer during the Indian Racing League held in Hyderabad on Sunday. (DC Image/R. Pavan)

HYDERABAD: A large number of spectators who flocked to the high-speed Indian Racing League event’s first round on Sunday were left disappointed due to an array of issues — lack of seating arrangements, influential people occupying assigned seats and lack of information on public arrangements.

Drivers were also a disappointed lot as they alleged that the racing track did not meet the standards for the event. A car crash that left a spectator injured also left a sour taste for many.

Racers were greeted enthusiastically by the crowd that packed the galleries to capacity, even as lack of coordination left many facing problems parking their vehicles and finding their assigned seats.

Although minibuses were organised to ferry spectators from parking spaces to spots between Jalavihar and Imax Circle, where the event was being held, many ended up walking due to a lack of information on the availability of the shuttle service.

Even as many, who were able to secure VIP passes by paying Rs. 7,500-Rs. 8,000, tried to enter the galleries, they were stopped by the police outside the lounges for two hours, as they were filled.

Around 15,000 passes were sold for the event, but the viewing gallery could accommodate only 7,500 people. The rest were left to fend for themselves, by having to take to adjoining buildings or the Telugu Talli flyover to watch the event.

An official related to the event said that the arrangements were sufficient for the practice on Saturday, but that there were some issues on Sunday.

“We will discuss the same with the organisers and increase the number of seats to at least 15,000 during the next trial, which will be held during December 10 and 11,” the official said.

But this was scant consolation for some, who claimed to have paid over Rs. 10,000 per pass.

“We bought passes to the country's first street circuit in the heart of the city along with the family this weekend. However, to our utter disappointment, we were not allowed inside the galleries, claiming that seats were full. We bought each pass for Rs. 12,000. Now, who will reimburse the amount?” said N. Rela, a racing fan.

With many facing similar problems, several arguments between pass-holders and the police broke out on the day.

Meanwhile, drivers who took part in the event said that the track was still wet, preventing them from going full throttle, and that it was not suited for a national-level event.

Officials of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) — which laid the track for the event — shifted the buck, citing insufficient time for undertaking the work. They said that all the work was done within 20 days, under the assumption that it would suffice for a trial run event ahead of the Formula-E race in February 2023.

They, however, assured of undertaking necessary works for the next round of IRL on December 10 and 11, and subsequently, ensuring the track fitness as per FIA specifications for the Formula-E event.

Even as the drivers tried to make the most of the conditions provided, spectators were put off by the lack of proper arrangements for them to enjoy the experience.

The precursor races were also delayed, which subsequently led to the main IRL event also facing a delay.

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