TVS Young Media Racer Programme 5 | Our correspondent’s induction into the world of racing
The fifth season of the TVS Young Media Racer Programme kicked off in July with a qualifier round that saw 15 journalists across India come to the MMRT, receive training under current and past star TVS Racers — Jagan Kumar, KY Ahmed and Harry Sylvester after which a total of 12 riders were chosen to participate in the three-race season. The first race of the season kicked off with the first round of the INMRC, in August.
This was my first time out racing and it was extremely exciting, to say the least. After the qualifying stint back in July, we were surprised to find different tyres on our race-spec TVS Apache RTR 200 4V for the race season. The experience was all the more overwhelming because it was the first time most of us were riding the full loop of the Madras Motor Race Track as we only rode the short loop for qualifying courtesy of torrential downpour the previous night. It took a few laps to get familiar with the track and more so with the stickier but thinner TVS Eurogrip 110-section rear tyres. But, sadly we didn't get the whole day to practice and the best time I could post in qualifying was a 2:36 putting me all the way back at P7 on the starting grid for race day. On the day of the race, I started to trust the bike more and I had full faith in the TVS Racing's race engineer — Pruthvi who said ‘ Just keep pushing’ and push, I did. I finished a disappointing sixth in the race and managed to make two overtakes over the course of the race. What I did feel good about was that in a matter of five laps, I managed to shave six seconds off my previous time to post a 2:30 minute lap, and became much more comfortable with the behaviour of the bike. I started tightening up my lines while braking later and harder.
After the first race, I was fortunate enough to visit MMRT again for the launch of the TVS Apache RR 310 BTO. I took the opportunity to further improve my understanding of the track and entered round two better prepared. Round two of the TVS YMRP took place with the third round of the 2021 INMRC. My previous race plus the RR 310 test saw me going for the qualifying session a lot more confident than earlier. Right off the bat, I felt much better on the bike. I learnt how to ignore the small things that were otherwise hindering my progress on track and doing so, opened up a lot of space in my mind to start focussing on things that mattered. Things like looking where I wanted to go, finding the best line to improve my progress and setting reference markers for braking. The results of this were immediately shown considering I posted my fastest ever lap time at 2:25.181 minutes and had already improved from my previous best time by around five seconds. Along with this, I also managed to qualify P3 for the starting grid in the race.
This is it, race day. After having barely slept the entire night and being extremely anxious most of the morning, we lined up at the grid waiting for the lights to go out. I managed to get a decent launch, but the racer at P4 managed to get ahead of me on the main straight and stayed ahead for the following two corners. However, I wasn’t giving up my chance on the podium and was hot on his tail waiting for him to make a mistake and as soon as he would, I would take my shot and come back into the third position. There was a constant tussle through laps one and two and that was extremely fun. Proper neck and neck racing.
This was until the end of the third lap. In an attempt to get him on the final corner, I ended up going in too hot and lost control of my front end which resulted in me crashing and not finishing the race. I was extremely disappointed and dejected because not only did I lose my shot at a podium finish, I also didn’t finish the race. That being said, I did manage to improve my times yet again and posted my fastest time — 2:22:290 minutes. Now there’s no point crying over spilt milk. The next race is in February, at the final round of the INMRC and I fully intend to finish on the podium this time around. Winning and losing aside, this initiative by TVS is fantastic and I properly got to experience what racing felt like, what it is to be a part of a dog fight and so much more. For that and the mountain loads of learning, I am eternally grateful.