TVs Young Me­dia Rac­ers

I went around in circles and didn’t re­gret it. Yes, there was a race­track in­volved

Bike India - - CONTENTS - STORY: JOSHUA VARGH­ESE

We hit the track for a first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence

Ilanded in Chen­nai for the sec­ond round of the ‘TVS Young Me­dia Racer Pro­gramme’ and my en­thu­si­asm was slightly damp­ened after learn­ing that it had rained heav­ily the pre­vi­ous night. Three hours later, at MMRT, a bunch of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists, in­clud­ing my­self, stood glar­ing at the sky, try­ing to avert the sin­is­ter grey clouds that loomed in the dis­tance with our dis­pleased faces.

In­cred­u­lous as it may seem, it worked! The track dried out, the swel­ter­ing heat was back, and we had ideal rac­ing con­di­tions.

The full loop — all of 3.72 km and 12 cor­ners — turned out to be more chal­leng­ing than I ex­pected. The­o­ret­i­cally, I knew what lines I had to take but, to my ut­ter dis­ap­point­ment, I found out that know­ing the lines and tak­ing them con­sis­tently lap after lap were two very dif­fer­ent things (my re­spect for rac­ers went a few notches up after this re­al­i­sa­tion). By the end of the first lap, I had the track fig­ured out un­til C4. Be­yond that point, the never-end­ing cor­ner and the short arc be­fore it messed up my rhythm. With each lap of prac­tice, I tried to im­prove my time be­tween C4 and C10 but progress was an­noy­ingly slow; so was I.

Although qual­i­fy­ing was better, I wasn’t fast enough to make the cut — to qual­ify, the slow­est per­son on the grid should be within 115 per cent of the pole-po­si­tion tim­ing.

The next day, I was al­lowed to race; start­ing right at the back of the grid. The first thing that struck me when we lined up on the grid was the lin­ger­ing ten­sion in the air. The en­tire grid was rent with the sound of revving en­gines, the smell of burnt fuel, and the killer in­stinct that be­gan creep­ing into each of us as the ‘fiveminute’ board came out. The en­ergy on the track dur­ing a race is pure, unadul­ter­ated and bor­der­line in­sane.

Be­fore the lights came on, we wished each other good luck. Then the ca­ma­raderie ended.

As we revved our en­gines wait­ing for the lights to go out, I’m sure each of us was think­ing the same thing: “Race for the win!” Any hopes I had of clinch­ing a leg­endary win were crushed in sec­onds as I watched the lead­ers take off with per­fect launches and swarm into the first cor­ner neckto-neck. How­ever, I did man­age to claim a cou­ple of po­si­tions at the ex­pense of poor starts by my fel­low com­peti­tors. An­other win­dow of op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self when a cou­ple of rac­ers ran wide at the end of the back straight. Hav­ing suc­cess­fully taken ad­van­tage and se­cured a re­spectable po­si­tion, I in­creased my pace and over­shot the chi­cane.

After cor­rect­ing my line, I tailed the racer who had over­taken me with the in­ten­tion of slip­stream­ing past him on the main straight. As we ap­proached the fi­nal cor­ner be­fore the straight, he slowed down while I braked late and leaned into the cor­ner aim­ing for the apex; fur­ther short­en­ing his lead. I was off the seat with my knee inches above the tar­mac and look­ing at the exit when I no­ticed out of the cor­ner of my eye that we were too close to each other. In an ef­fort to tighten my exit, I opened throt­tle. Per­haps, I judged his speed in­cor­rectly for our lines briefly over­lapped. My front wheel clipped his rear wheel, send­ing him wide. Re­gret­tably, my luck wasn’t as sound as his. I went head-first on to the tar­mac and shot off the track with my trusty ma­chine in tow.

After a quick check for any phys­i­cal dis­com­fort, I was back in the race. I man­aged to squeeze in one more lap un­til my gear­box got stuck in sec­ond gear. Faced with the choice of rid­ing the re­main­der of the race in sec­ond gear, it was with a heavy heart that I re­tired to the pits.

Three laps later, the podium was claimed by Rishaad Mody (first), Amar Katkar (sec­ond), and Janak So­rap (third).

If you be­lieve you have what it takes, I would rec­om­mend sign­ing up for the One-Make Cham­pi­onship next year. When man­u­fac­tur­ers like TVS of­fer you the con­ve­nience of rac­ing with ev­ery­thing else (pro­tec­tive gear, mo­tor­cy­cles, and fuel) taken care of ex­cept a hel­met, it is too good not to con­sider. If you are young enough, this could be the best start for a ca­reer in rac­ing; if you aren’t, it will be an ex­pe­ri­ence you will never for­get.

Be­fore the lights came on, we wished each other good luck. Then the ca­ma­raderie ended

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: TVS

Aim: To achieve the per­fect launch

The rest of us swarm the win­ners for a pic­ture

Achieve­ment un­locked: Lean like a boss...well, al­most

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