2024 E-Xplorer: Offroad racing World Cup where India’s 1st motorbike team ‘INDE Racing’ is to compete

The E-Xplorer is an all-terrain motorcycle racing series that features obstacles like rockpiles, logs, dirt jumps, and bumpy sections.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Feb 03, 2024 | 10:00 AMUpdatedFeb 03, 2024 | 3:32 PM

2024 E-Xplorer A glimpse into off-road racing World Cup where India's 1st motorbike team 'INDE Racing' is set to compete

India’s “first” Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM)-recognised motorbike team was launched in Hyderabad last month.

The team, named INDE Racing, will take part in the upcoming FIM E-Xplorer World Cup, featuring electric dirt bikes.

The team’s squad comprises two females and a male rider. Among them is Aishwarya Pissay, Asia’s first woman athlete to win a world championship in two-wheel motorsports. She won the 2019 FIM Bajas World Cup.

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What is E-Xplorer?

In 1949, the FIM started motorcycle-racing grand prix (French for “grand prize” or “chief prize”), which are the highest levels at which racing events are held on road circuits across the globe.

However, the E-Xplorer takes place on off-road makeshift tracks where the emphasis is more on skills than speed.

The all-terrain motorcycle racing series features a mix of obstacles such as rockpiles and logs, as well as dirt jumps and bumpy sections.

Moto E-Xplorer World Cup. (Commons)

As per FIM representatives, a minimum of five acres of land is required to build a track of 500-600 metres for this event.

With a special emphasis laid on electrical mobility, the enduro-cross racing series features electric motocross bikes indicating a push towards environmental sustainability.

FIM E-Xplorer co-founder Carina Munter told South First, “The teams have to develop their own e-bikes, one being hyperbikes with batteries up to 7kWh, and the other with a standard MX bike wheelbase.”

About how an e-dirt bike is different from a regular one, Spanish rider Sandra Gomez told South First, “There are some changes. We have to recharge the batteries between the races. The bike is a little heavier due to the batteries. There are also no clutch, so we need to adapt to that as well.”

The INDE racing has tuned Brembo brake pads on their bikes.

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Team INDE Racing

INDE racing, owned by Hyderabad-based Kankanala Sports Group (KSG), has signed a nine-year partnership with FIM E-Explorer to oversee races in India.

INDE Racing founder Abhishek Reddy Kankanala pointed out that the team aims to achieve new grounds in India.

“We have always missed a competitive independent team to cheer for despite the growing interest in motorsports in India, ” he told South First, adding that the team would go for an outright win in their debut season.

“We have the best riders — Aishwarya, Spencer, and Sandra. So, we will go for the win outright, like any other team,” he said.

He was referring to Spanish rider Gomez, the reigning champion of the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup, and Canadian dirt bike racer, Spenser Wilton — the team’s only male rider.

To tune their bikes for the championship, the team has collaborated with KTM34 garage, situated in Europe’s largest moto complex in Mauguio’s Motopark in France.

Kankanala also said that the E-Xplorer envisions setting up a national championship and other grassroots programmes in India, to which the KSG will also contribute.

A Moto GP race. (Commons)

“We want to bring together the youngsters who want to be like Aishwarya, Sandra, or Spencer. In the coming years, you will see several riders from India,” he said.

“The other nine teams in the Xplorer have racers across the world. We plan to push the sport in our country to find new champions,” said Reddy.

He added that the team was also in search of another male rider — preferably from India.

He is the owner and co-owner of several professional sports teams across multiple leagues. These include the Bengaluru Raptors, a two-time champion of the Premier Badminton League (PBL), the Hyderabad Black Hawks of the Prime Volleyball League (PVL), and the Bengaluru Brawlers of the National Boxing League.

Citing an example of the Indian volleyball team in the 2022 Asian Games, Reddy said, “Earlier, India did not stand a chance in Asia, but this team beat the second-ranked South Korea in the Asian Games. So, we pushed ourselves in the last two years.”

He added: “I don’t see any other way with the racing as well. Grassroots programme will be put in and multiple companies will also be roped in.”

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2024 Xplorer World Cup

The E-Xplorer World Cup is going to witness five races — across Japan, Norway, France, and Switzerland, with the final race in India.

The debut race of the season is scheduled in Osaka city of Japan on 16 and 17 February.

The first season — in 2023 — was held in Europe with races in Barcelona, the Swiss mountains of Crans Montana, the volcanic woodlands of Vollore-Montagne in the Auvergne region of France, and the sandy beachfront of Sardinia. However, this season the organisers decided to expand to Asia.

A race at E-Xplorer World Cup. (Commons)

MIE Racing of Japan, partnering with Dutch manufacturer EMX, was crowned the champion of the first-ever FIM E-Xplorer World Cup.

INDE Racing is the 10th team to be associated with the E-Xplorer, which already has three teams from Australia, two from France, and one each from Switzerland, Japan, the US and Great Britain.

For Carina Munter, the presence of an Indian side promises to be a significant driver of enthusiasm for a strong Indian fanbase.

“It will act as a catalyst for the promotion of e-mobility and electric motorsport worldwide,” she said.

Noting that the FIM E-Xplorer was still in its initial stages, Munter said, “We aim is to arrange between 10 and 14 races a year in the coming years.”

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Motorsport culture in India

When it comes to international motorsports, India witnessed a Formula 1 car race in 2011 at the Buddh International Circuit in Noida. But it was discontinued after a three-year stint.

Hyderabad became the first-ever Indian city to host the Formule-E race in 2023. However, what was expected to be a second season this year was terminated by the apex motorsports body due to a contract breach by the Telangana government.

Dirt Bike Racing. (Supplied)

However, for the FIM E-Xplorer representatives, India is one of the biggest consumers of electric vehicles, especially two-wheelers.

“In Europe, you don’t really go with a motorcycle during the winter, but here people do. In my opinion, it would be actually better to start in a place where we really give the sort of visibility that the E-Xplorer needs to attract a lot of people — especially young people,” said Munter.

“It will start building something from an operationally easier place than putting something together. Indian people are technically moving very fast. A lot of Indian manufacturers are exceptionally developing incredible technologies,” she said, adding that the E-Xplorer was also mulling to next move to China.

Aishwarya Pissay noted that there were good-quality racing tracks in India but there was not enough marketing of the sport in the country.

“More events like this, highlight the MotoGP sport, and more teams like INDE racing supporting it will get spectators towards it,” she told South First.