We had to do as many laps as pos­si­ble around a race­track within 60 min­utes on a Suzuki Gixxer Cup race bike. What bet­ter way to start a Sun­day?


For most race week­ends over the past sea­son, I have been at the Kari mo­tor speed­way (Kms) in coim­bat­ore, usu­ally to cover the suzuki Gixxer cup races. as the rac­ers whizzed around the shot­gun-shaped track astride their shiny, blue mo­tor­cy­cles, I have wished to be in their shoes... er... boots and un­leash the race-spec Gixxer sF on the Kms. my wish did come true when suzuki in­vited us to take part in a me­dia race. the best part was that I got an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence a for­mat of rac­ing I had never tried be­fore: en­durance rac­ing.

en­durance rac­ing is con­ducted at the global level un­der the aegis of the Fédéra­tion In­ter­na­tionale de mo­to­cy­clisme en­durance World cham­pi­onship; usu­ally held for eight, 12 or 24 hours. How­ever, our race was only 60 min­utes long. For a bunch of peo­ple whose idea of “en­durance” was tack­ling a flight of stairs, that seemed fair enough.

the prac­tice ses­sion was spent fig­ur­ing out the mo­tor­cy­cle. Unlike the road-go­ing Gixxer sF, the race ma­chine was lighter, had low-set clipon han­dle­bars, rear-set foot-pegs, and had a few tweaks done to the en­gine and sus­pen­sion — all of these con­tribut­ing to op­ti­miz­ing the mo­tor­cy­cle for the race­track. Now the mo­tor­cy­cle makes slightly more power than the 14.8 Ps pro­duced by its street

avatar. all these changes make it an en­joy­able track ma­chine.

the for­mat of the race was al­most iden­ti­cal to the one used for en­durance races at the in­ter­na­tional level, with spe­cial al­lowances made for us non­racer folk. Later that day, we drew lots to se­lect team-mates. my team-mate and I were al­lot­ted the num­ber “42”. Yes, we were sport­ing mo­toGP rider alex rins’s rac­ing num­ber on a suzuki; what are the odds...

We were in­formed that our po­si­tion for the race start would be de­cided based on the av­er­age of the fastest time set by both team-mates dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing. Hav­ing se­cured a fifth-place start, our next chal­lenge was the race-start pro­ce­dure. the mo­tor­cy­cles were lined up along the right-hand side of the track with one team-mate hold­ing the bike up, while the other (in this case, me) had to stand be­hind the white line on the left-hand side of the track op­po­site their cor­re­spond­ing mo­tor­cy­cles. as soon as the lights went off, I ran to the bike, jumped on it, started it and raced away in sec­ond place. Be­ing quick on your feet does have its ad­van­tages.

We had to race around the Kms for 60 min­utes straight. the catch was that one rider could not spend more than 25 min­utes in the sad­dle at a stretch. Prior to the race, my team-mate and I de­cided to split track-time equally be­tween us and, sure enough, on my ninth lap, I saw the pit crew flash­ing our rac­ing num­ber, in­di­cat­ing that my first ses­sion was al­most over. I en­tered the pit-lane, tak­ing care to keep the speed be­low 40 km/h (which is the pit-lane speed limit) and dis­mounted in front of my team­mate, who quickly jumped on the mo­tor­cy­cle and rode off. While he was out on the track, I put the time I had to good use and re­hy­drated my­self. af­ter clock­ing his share of laps, my team­mate pulled into the pits and I zoomed off for my fi­nal ses­sion. soon, the num­ber 42 board was flashed from the pit wall for the last time. I rode in and handed over the bike to my team-mate who went out for the fi­nal ses­sion.

although we took part in a di­luted ver­sion of the orig­i­nal en­durance race for­mat, it was easy to note what set en­durance rac­ing apart from other races. the first thing that struck me was the sheer phys­i­cal and men­tal strength needed to see the race through. at the end of the event, I had rid­den for roughly 40 min­utes on the track and it helped me ap­pre­ci­ate the sheer tenac­ity and power of will that must ac­com­pany the pro­fes­sion­als who do this at race pace lap af­ter lap. Phys­i­cal fit­ness was of paramount im­por­tance and it helped me clock con­sis­tent lap-times with­out tir­ing my­self out. Fur­ther­more, a clever strat­egy is just as cru­cial as set­ting quick and con­sis­tent lap-times. Let­ting the fastest rider in the team race the most is a sound plan. In fact, when the re­sults were an­nounced, we re­al­ized that we could have fin­ished two places higher if we had done two rider switches in­stead of three.

en­durance rac­ing is a test of strength — both for the rider and the ma­chine. While the rider’s skill and con­sis­tency are high­lighted, the ma­chine’s ca­pa­bil­ity to per­form un­der tax­ing con­di­tions also be­comes ev­i­dent. We hope In­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers also show an in­ter­est in this form of rac­ing and con­tribute to giv­ing it a per­ma­nent place in our coun­try’s mo­tor sport cal­en­dar.

ABOVE: That was a fun way to start a race

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