TVS Young Me­dia Race

Arm­chair rac­ing is easy. Fight­ing for eight laps to cross the line is not


We race on the track for a first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence

On a race week­end, if

you are greeted by a pool of wa­ter be­low the bridge that leads to the fi­nal cor­ner at the MMRT (Madras Mo­tor Race Track), then it is highly likely that you will not be rac­ing the full loop. Un­wel­come show­ers overnight forced of­fi­cials to re­duce the length of all the races over the week­end. Our five-lap race was now an eight-lap dash around the short loop.

I was in Chen­nai dur­ing the fourth round of the MRF FMSCI In­dian Na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship to race in the ‘TVS Young Me­dia Racer Pro­gramme’. TVS Rac­ing of­fered au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ists like my­self the chance to at­tend a rac­ing school and par­tic­i­pate in sup­port races dur­ing the rac­ing sea­son. Thus far, I had raced at the Kari Mo­tor Speed­way, Coim­bat­ore, and MMRT. The pro­gramme has helped me un­der­stand the nu­ances of rac­ing and ap­pre­ci­ate what rac­ers go through each time they are out on the track. So when the MMRT beck­oned for the third race, I obliged.

I en­tered the track with a spring in my step. I had done my home­work, kept my­self in good shape, and had in­vested in a new hel­met; which trans­lates into ‘cov­ered al­most ev­ery­thing ex­cept ac­tual prac­tice’. Thus far, the first round got can­celled due to rain and I crashed out in the sec­ond one. One of my ba­sic goals this time was to see the en­tire race through.

Ten min­utes be­fore the prac­tice ses­sion, all of us emerged from the TVS garage fully kit­ted up; this time with chest and back pro­tec­tors. The lat­est track rules state that this ex­tra piece of kit is an ab­so­lute es­sen­tial for rac­ing. I was for­tu­nate enough to es­cape un­scathed from my pre­vi­ous crashes but in ret­ro­spect it could have been a painful ex­pe­ri­ence if I had landed on my chest with­out the pro­tec­tors.

Dur­ing the 30-minute-long prac­tice ses­sion I fo­cused on get­ting my lines right. Each lap I braked

later and got on the gas faster. When I asked for tips to im­prove my lap times, our Ed, Aspi Bha­thena, told me that to be fast around any cir­cuit you ei­ther have to be on the gas or on the brakes. Ev­ery sec­ond you spend coast­ing or brak­ing softly costs you pre­cious sec­onds. Ad­di­tion­ally, your smooth­ness when feed­ing in the throt­tle af­ter brak­ing hard for a cor­ner will make all the dif­fer­ence. Com­ing out of C12 (the fi­nal cor­ner be­fore the main straight), my rear tyre oc­ca­sion­ally slipped and slid, re­mind­ing me that I needed to work on my throt­tle in­put.

Qual­i­fy­ing saw a more sat­is­fy­ing use of my time since I had a bet­ter idea of what I needed to do. By the end of the ses­sion, I man­aged to shave off four sec­onds from my best time dur­ing prac­tice. A few months ear­lier, I had done the same short loop on the same bike in a minute and 19 sec­onds which meant that I had the po­ten­tial to go faster if I could fig­ure out my mis­takes in time.

The fol­low­ing day we took our places on the grid and waited for the lights to go out. The usual ten­sion that ac­com­pa­nies a race was thick around us as we stood at the start­ing line revving our en­gines. Our im­me­di­ate vicin­ity seemed to be lost in a time of its own while the world went about its nor­mal busi­ness on ei­ther side of the tar­mac. The mo­ment the lights went out, I pulled a small wheelie and shot for­ward, tak­ing a cou­ple of po­si­tions off the start line. Af­ter the first set of cor­ners, a care­less mis­take saw me lose one po­si­tion to a fel­low racer who was quick to cap­i­talise on the op­por­tu­nity. The fol­low­ing laps saw me de­fend my po­si­tion while try­ing to chase down the guy in front of me.

I man­aged to fin­ish the race and also posted my best time for the week­end. Back in the pits, my fel­low jour­nal­ists told me that I was not rid­ing as fast as I used to. For the com­ing rounds, I am look­ing for­ward to in­creas­ing my phys­i­cal fit­ness and men­tal fo­cus so I can ride to my full po­ten­tial.

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