There’s this perception amongst many who bike racing doesn’t require the health, ability, or expertise a ‘regular’ sport does. And for some unusual cause, these exterior the world of motorcycling appear to the assume that bike racing simply isn’t as arduous as a traditional sport. Whereas I knew this was removed from true, lots of my family and friends who referred to as me to want me luck as I boarded my flight to Chennai didn’t. The vast majority of the calls I bought included recommendation that had been roughly “simply speed up as arduous as you’ll be able to and you’ll qualify”, and each time I heard it, I solely wished it was that easy.
My cause for heading to the Madras Motor Race Monitor was the TVS Younger Media Racer Programme I used to be going to be attending. Now in its third season, the programme – because the title suggests – provides auto journalists a chance to expertise the thrills and spills of racing immediately from the seat of a race bike, slightly than reporting about it from a grandstand. This 12 months there have been members from print and on-line media homes. The primary season solely had invitees from print, whereas the second solely had members of the web media. Talking of earlier seasons, my colleague Rishaad Mody dominated the primary one and took dwelling the championship… so, no strain then!
Whereas I knew I used to be missing loads that was required to be fast across the observe, I wasn’t down on confidence. And that was primarily as a result of I couldn’t take a race as selective as one for less than media personnel very severely, particularly when it was open to solely riders beneath the age of 30. It couldn’t be that troublesome to crack, might it? This was no Isle of Man TT or MotoGP or perhaps a national-level outing for that matter. Effectively… extra on that later.
I did need to be slightly aggressive – it was racing in spite of everything – however I used to be extra centered on studying and gaining expertise. Fortunately for me, TVS had comparable concepts. Our day started with a classroom session the place we had been launched to TVS’ star street racers – Jagan Kumar, KY Ahmad and Harry Sylvester.
Harry was in control of the speculation periods, whereas Jagan and Ahmad had been of their leathers to show present us across the observe. We started with the fundamentals, the place Harry taught us the race flags and guidelines of the observe. The flags are the one technique of communication throughout an outing, which is what makes them severe enterprise. In case you are curious, the extra vital flags are the chequered, purple, yellow, inexperienced and black flags. Chequered is the plain one, whereas a purple flag means there was a severe incident on the observe and all members should return to the pit lane instantly at a managed velocity. The yellow flag stands for warning and riders are anticipated to drop tempo significantly as there might be a hazard forward, sometimes an accident or an oil spill. There isn’t a overtaking underneath a yellow flag, and you’ll solely achieve this after getting handed a inexperienced flag, which suggests all is evident forward and racing can resume. The black flag, in the meantime, is probably the most dreaded, as a result of it alerts disqualification because of disciplinary causes. That is one flag we completely don’t need to see.
We then rapidly moved on to extra enjoyable stuff like throttle management, braking, physique place and the racing line. Harry couldn’t stress sufficient how vital it was to maintain the preserve rider inputs clean, as any jerky throttle, brake or steering enter might upset the steadiness of the bike and presumably result in a crash. As quickly as he was achieved explaining the fundamentals, he signalled that it was time to go well with up because it was time to apply every little thing we had learnt.
TVS had lined up its race-spec Apache RTR 200 4Vs for us that day. These bikes are near inventory however have a racing exhaust with an ECU remap to match. Purely meant for the observe, the RTRs had been additionally barred from carrying ‘pointless’ elements that may add weight and decrease efficiency – together with the flip indicators, stands and extra. Our instructors, in the meantime, would lead us on the very cool Apache RR 310 Cup race bikes.
As quickly as you get on the RTR 200 race bike, you realise it feels completely different from the traditional street bike. It’s loud and idles abnormally excessive, however it doesn’t really feel intimidating. Divided into teams of 5, we adopted our teacher across the observe whereas he identified to the turn-in markers that they had arrange across the observe. These markers, in TVS’ phrases, had been arrange in order that they may ‘spoon-feed us into getting the higher instances later that day’. We then did 5-6 laps, the place every of us bought a person lap behind the teacher and had been guided on every flip.
Because it bought nearer to midday, we headed for the ultimate apply session earlier than we went out for qualifying. That is when the warmth and my lack of health started taking its toll. I used to be getting drained and so had been the numerous others current there. Our instructors warned us to not utterly exhaust ourselves earlier than qualifying, however the observe time we had been getting was so pleasing, none of us wished to come back into the pits.
It was time for the choice spherical and it had come earlier than I had appreciated. It was my first time using at MMRT and I used to be nonetheless dreading taking up the tough C10-C11. However, it was time to present it my greatest. I don’t keep in mind a lot from these laps apart from focusing greater than I’ve ever earlier than and attempting to not repeat my errors. Whereas each lap of mine had a disappointing time, it was persistently dropping. My first lap was a 2:44.57, which then went right down to 2:42.32 after which to 2:40.32; this meant I used to be going two seconds quicker each lap round. Sadly, although, I had run out of laps.
The quickest lap that day was near 2 minutes 25 seconds, making me an embarrassing 15 seconds slower than the rider who took pole place. However, I wasn’t upset as I used to be there to study and acquire observe time. Of the 18 members, I used to be the 10th quickest and I had made the highest 15 lower to be eligible to race on the TVS YMRP. The precise racing begins in June, and I can hardly wait!