This year’s Red Bull Road to Rookies Cup witnesses a lot of young participants from the north-east.
As far as motor racing goes, with just three authorised circuits in India, infrastructure is limited. One of course is the Formula 1 grade Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida and there are two more in the southern region – in Chennai and Coimbatore. It is no news that motor racing is an expensive sport and it doesn’t help that the circuits are few and far. For obvious reasons then, racing in India has more often than not seen talent emerging from the southern region. That is not to say that there isn’t enough flair for racing in the rest of the country – it is just about going that extra mile to find it, and Suzuki has done just that.
Alongside the Gixxer Cup, Suzuki also runs the Road to Rookies Cup in association with JK Tyre and Red Bull. It serves as a platform for budding racers between the age of 12-16 years to showcase their skill. After three rounds at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore, the most talented rider gets a go at qualifying for the Red Bull Road to Rookies Cup in Spain. While the Japanese bikemaker had run the event last year too, this year’s grid has a lot of participants from the north-eastern region of the country.
Unlike most other racing championships in the country, Suzuki has taken the effort to literally scout talent from four corners of the county. For the Road to Rookies Cup, the selection rounds were organised in Delhi, Aizawl, Pune and Bangalore. While the selection round in Delhi, Pune and Bangalore was at a go-kart circuit, in Aizawl, it was held at an air strip. The selection was not just based on pure skill but also on the attitude and likelihood of pursuing a racing career. The result? Despite not having a certified circuit to hone their skills on, four out of the seven racers in the Road to Rookies Cup are from Aizawl.
We recently got a chance to witness the Round 2 of the Road to Rookies Cup. A 1:33.477-minute lap brought Aizawl-based Lalnunsanga pole position for Race 1 while Lalhruaizela secured second place on the grid. The first race of the Red Bull Rookies cup was undoubtedly the most nail-biting one of the weekend. Gunawardena and Lalhruaizela fought throughout the 8-lap race and only to cross the line neck and neck. The Sri Lankan rider, however, managed to cross the finish line just 0.010 seconds ahead of Lalhruaizela. In Race 2, Gunwardena managed to pull a lead right at the start and stayed ahead till the end of the race. Meanwhile, Lahruaizela and Varoon S fought throughout the race to finish in second and third respectively.