Chennai: The international automobile federation (FIA) has granted the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) here a Grade 2 license after the circuit, located on the outskirts of the city, underwent massive renovation over the past couple of years.
The Grade 2 license will enable the MMRT to host races such as Indycar, World Endurance Championship, DTM and GT Racing, according to a press release from the Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) Friday.
Plans are afoot to revamp the infrastructure at the circuit with a brand-new pit building housing the pit garages with hospitality area and media centre above, the release added.
The circuit underwent renovation in phases over the past three years in a bid to upgrade it with work on increasing the run-off areas, kerbs, Armco barriers, and fully advanced race control room besides efforts to provide more safety for competitors.
MMSC president Ajit Thomas said: "I'm delighted that the FIA has granted Grade 2 circuit license for the MMRT and would like to thank them for the vote of confidence in the work carried out at the circuit. We have been working closely with the FIA inspectors for over three years to not only satisfy licensing requirements but also to make our circuits as safe as practically possible.
"Vicky (Chandhok) and our team at MMRT take immense pride in making their circuit amongst the most attractive to both competitors and motorsport promoters. This gives us the opportunity to plan ahead and look at bringing some of the most prestigious motor racing events in the world to the MMRT."
India's first-ever FIA recognised race track, the MMRT was first used for racing in 1990 and has been the main breeding ground for the country's top drivers including India's only two Formula 1 drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.
Karthikeyan said: "The Madras circuit is like my home track where I made my racing debut so it will always be a special place for me. The layout is enormously challenging and it is enjoyed by all drivers as well as riders.
"Safety has come a long way from when I started back in 1992 and hopefully the new certification will provide an impetus for more international races to be held at the venue and help our young drivers' development."
Karun, currently a Formula E driver, said: "This is fantastic news for Indian motorsport as a whole. I have many fond memories of this circuit and have witnessed it improving over the years. It is important to have circuits like this which are affordable to use and are challenging for young drivers to help in their development.
"With the plans that are shaping up for the upgrade of the facilities, this will certainly be a great destination for championships like GT Asia, the Asian Le Mans series and the Japanese Super GT."
Vicky, past president of Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) and vice-president MMSC, said: "The MMRT has always been a 'driver's circuit' and a favourite amongst most local and international drivers for being technical and challenging.
"Our focus has been and will continue to be on offering an affordable testing and racing venue not just for motorsport but also for automotive manufacturers and their supplier to test at, enthusiasts to hire for track days as well as driver and rider training programmes. This year we have been booked for over 230 days which is the highest since the track was inaugurated."