To scorch the track on two wheels, we roped in the incredible skills of professional bike racer Sarath Kumar
Twenty-five-year-old Sarath Kumar is the first and, till date, only Indian rider to have taken part in a MotoGP race weekend when he rode in the first three rounds of the 125cc class in 2011 – participating in one race. Since then, he’s raced in the Spanish Moto3 Championship in 2013 and the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship. In India, Sarath won the 165cc national crown in 2010, as well as two Honda CBR 250 Cup crowns.
Despite recently being plagued by injury, he continues the grind. Aside from hours of riding, he has a training regime that has him cycling 70 kilometres, followed by up to 1.5 hours of swimming two-to-three times a week, and two hours in the gym training with free weights on the days in between. The work put in shows in the manner in which he rides as compared to enthusiastic motorcycle journalists – who themselves can ride at a pretty high level (if we do say so ourselves). The whole team at autoX thanks him for putting the bikes through their paces and pushing them to their absolute limits. Fingers crossed that he has an injury free and successful racing season in 2018.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to give Sarath the pleasure of blasting down the long straights of the BIC. Maintenance work on both the main straight, as well as the 1.2-kilometre back straight, meant that this year we were forced to use only the back half of the circuit – consisting of turns 5 through 15. This meant that the lap length went from 5.1 kilometres of the full circuit to 2.0 kilometres for the loop we selected – as demonstrated in the track map on the right. The red line depicts the loop we used for the four-wheel vehicles, while the blue depicts the two-wheel loop – the only difference being that the bikes (and the Honda Cliq) used the inside / bike loop of the parabolica at turns 10, 11 and 12.
We had to give up everything from turn 16, the final corner that leads onto the main straight, to turn 4 – the downhill right-hander at the end of the back straight. These sections would, naturally, favour the more powerful (and aerodynamic) machines, but we hugely enjoyed using the more technical back-end of the circuit. In fact, we’re tempted to stick to this configuration for future anniversary-issue tests as well – especially when you consider that we have 55 vehicles to test over just a couple of days!
Lap timing is conducted by the timing system at the BIC, which was able to time the loop we selected. Each car and bike is fitted with a transponder to ensure that all lap times are accurate to the hundredth of a second.