The immensely technical Kari Motor Speedway offered exhilaration and learning in equal measure. So, one could not have asked for a better start to this year’s Young Media Racer Programme!
Let’s dial the clock back to our April issue. That was the edition in which I had reported about my selection for this year’s TVS Young Media Racer Programme. Well, this was the month when I hauled myself to Coimbatore for the inaugural round which took place at the deceptively technical Kari Motor Speedway (KMS). I was particularly upbeat about the thought of racing at Kari due to two reasons: It was my first-ever riding experience there and second, with three competitors missing out on the first round, I felt as though my chances of securing a good position in the race just got stronger!
There we all were. With an awe-inspiring backdrop of hills, clouds and lush greenery, the KMS greeted us with our TVS Apache RTR 200s lined up in the pits, gleaming, as usual. As the championship took place alongside the 2019 MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship, I was in a rather large company of some highly talented racers from across the country.
Proceedings began with a track briefing session, giving us the usual dose of the do’s and don’ts of track racing, followed by a quick recap of the grid start procedure (something which is messed up even by experienced racers!). All suited up, we headed out for the practice session which gave us the first real idea about track conditions, how the bike was behaving and what lines were to be taken in order to get the best times. Apart from a few unexpected front-wheel popping incidents due to an uncontrollable surge of excitement, I ended the session smoothly and constructively.
The 25 minutes of practice was all I had to figure out my secret sauce as next up, I was headed into the 15-minute qualifying session. Some say this session is what makes or breaks the race. They aren’t entirely wrong. Determined to get a good position for the next day’s race, I mustered all my courage and went all-guns-blazing. While I did manage to shave a whole second off my best practice time, it was only good enough to fetch me the 9th spot on the grid. As underwhelming as it might sound, it wasn’t the end.
As race day came, the only thought going through my mind was to get a solid start, which would be achieved by belting down the straight leading up to the first right-hander in order to pick up a few places in the first lap itself. However, things didn’t exactly pan out the way I had predicted as the other competitors too got good starts and race-leaders soon vanished from my sight. While I came up to the 8th position, I was taken over once mid-way through the race and ultimately, I ended my race in the position from which I had started.
Keeping the results aside, the track itself was super fun to ride on and as mentioned above, it offered a very good combination of learning and exhilaration. From the foot peg-grinder parabolic to the uphill chicane to the 90-degree left-hander, each corner had its own challenge to offer. Although the riders were hoping for cooler day-time temperatures and an overcast sky, the high heat was certainly beneficial when it came to the tyres reaching their optimum temperature for maximum grip.
Lastly, what makes motorcycle racing all the more special is that it demands utmost levels of fearlessness from the rider, along with immense faith in the motorcycle’s abilities & extremities. While my heart was pounding away due to the adrenaline surge, my head was acting as the mediator to ensure I did not overcook any corner and end up in the ruts.
If you think this was exciting, then the adventure has only just begun. Next up, the championship will head to the Madras Motor Race track in Chennai for the upcoming second round, where speed shall prevail over everything!