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Non-F1 events lead race to monetise Buddh circuit

Sharmistha Mukherjee/New Delhi 10 Oct 12 | 12:12 AM

Even as India prepares to host its second Formula 1 (F1) race later this month, organiser Jaypee Sports International Ltd (JPSI) has quietly set the ball rolling to encash the business potential of the world-class racing circuit in Greater Noida.

The company, which intends to break even over the next three to four years, has inked a deal with Infront Sports & Media to host the first edition of the World Superbike Championship (WSBK) in India in March 2013. Talks are also on to bring purpose-built motorcycle racing championships MotoGP and GT1 to India later in the year. JPSI, which has bagged exclusive media rights (including broadcasting and sponsorship deals) for the India edition of WSBK for the next four years is likely to rake in Rs 90-100 crore in revenue from the series, indicate sources in the company.

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Over 104 television channels broadcast 3,300 hours of content on the WSBK championship to 460 million viewers globally in 2011. Adrian Atkinson, founder and owner of Sportfolio PR, a marketing communication specialist in sport and entertainment sponsorship, says: “Sponsors have difference marketing objectives. MotoGP may be perfect and more cost-effective for one sponsor compared to F1. The reverse will also be true for premium sponsors looking for global reach. I know India is a key market for sponsors that we work with. They should be encouraged to support events in the country with innovative and creative marketing campaigns."

Besides, the organiser has initiated talks with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to offer the 875-acre facility as an alternative site to host the Auto Expo. While a final decision is yet to be taken, the deal can bring in Rs 40-50 crore. JPSI is earning from letting out the facility to corporate houses. “On average, we are booked for 10 days a month. Companies such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Ferrari, MRF, Ford and Maruti Suzuki have all booked the circuit for experiential drives for customers," says a JPSI spokesperson. At a daily charge of Rs 8-10 lakh, the company has recorded business of over Rs 10 crore from the venture in the past year.

The performance driving academy run in association with Mercedes Benz at the Buddh International Circuit on a revenue sharing basis has also seen considerable interest. Debashis Mitra, director (sales & marketing), Mercedes Benz India, says, “We are overbooked. We conduct two-three day training sessions and are sold out for all 64 slots this year."

JPSI reported revenues of $30 million from ticket sales in 2011 but is estimated to post annual losses of $35 million on operational expenses in hosting the event. But the visibility is such that it is willing to scale up brand value despite initial financial hiccups.

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