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Anticipation & excitement as I race for the first time on Madras Motor Race Track!

The Final Round – Two Trophies In The Bag!

A bit late with the update, but yeah, we finally managed to get on the podium not once but twice. The final round of the TVS’s Young Media Racer Program took place in October, almost 3-4 months after the supposed second round got canceled due to an unfortunate incident.

Due to the cancellation of the second round, we were all under the impression that we would only be getting one more round, and that would be the final race. However, TVS managed to make the final session a two-round race, so we would get to race three times as it was supposed to be.

However this time around the setup was a bit different compared to the first round. The bikes were fitted with lighter alloy wheels, and the front tyre was changed to TVS Eurogrip Protorq Extreme, same as the rear, i.e., 110/70-17.

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110-section TVS Extreme Protorq HF tyre at the front did make a difference

Free Practice & Qualifying –

In the free practice, I managed to be on the top of the timesheet with a timing of 2:14.515. The goal was to break into the 2:13s during qualifying after the free practice, as I felt really confident with immense feedback from the motorcycle right away. The race-spec TVS Apache RTR 200 responded well when pushed, and the feedback from the tyres was confidence-inspiring. I could switch corners easily and carry good speed as well without stressing too much. At the end, I finally managed to achieve a qualifying time of 2:14.146 which still kept me on pole. Anyway, no complaints – it was my first pole position.

One major thing that really impressed me was that after every session, there was a one-to-one feedback session with the TVS race team. They took note of how the bike was performing on all the situations, assessing whether any changes were needed in terms of braking, suspension setup, and overall performance. This aspect impressed me a lot; it showed their commitment to racing. They even took our body weight into consideration and set up the bike accordingly for each individual. Despite being a part of the media race, we were treated just like the professionals who were out there on the track racing for the championship.

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Let’s pose before we head out for a kickass race!

Race Day –

Qualifying & practice sessions were done on the first day while the race day was the second day for everyone! Ours was the first race of the day, and during previous session, I had given feedback where I found it a bit difficult to downshift in C8 as I was not able to shift down from 5th to 3rd. In the morning, the TVS mech came to me, asking about it, and took my bike for proper testing and check-up first thing in the morning. They made sure I wouldn’t face any issues during the race.

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Race 1 –

In the first race, I had a good start and managed to stretch a bit of a gap from my competitors right at the begining. Since I had no one in front of me, I had no line of reference, and I was just trying not to outdo myself, riding at my own pace without crashing. In the second lap, I made few small mistakes here and there and couldn’t concentrate properly, which resulted in the rest of the pack closing in on me. I had a couple of moments too when Annaya and Alshin closed in on me. However, I managed to stay in front most of the time. In the final lap, I did manage to create a bit of a gap while leading the race. But then came the final corner, my Achilles’ heel.

Throughout the weekend, I struggled to get a good entry and exit in the final corner. As it happened, I braked late in the final corner, ran wide off the track, and over off-road for a few meters due to which Alshin closed up on me. Somehow, I managed to get back on track, accelerated the motorcycle and finished first with a difference of just 0.1 second between me and Alshin.

Right handers improved but I still needed some more confidence for all the right corners

As I crossed the checkered flag, I couldn’t contain my joy, screaming inside my helmet. It marked my first win in circuit racing. The sense of accomplishment was overwhelming, considering the significant effort I had put in during the gap between races. Witnessing all that hard work pay off, I felt on top of the world.

A good thing was that the video of our race was live-streamed on YouTube. So after cooling down, I reviewed the footage, as I was not feeling that confident in taking the corners C5 and C6. I went to Harry sir, showed him the footage, and he quickly pointed out that I was going too wide and losing time there. He then provided instructions on the correct way to take those corners which did help a lot in second race.

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I could actually carry more speed with immense confidence while taking the left corners

Race 2 –

In Race 2, I started again from pole position, determined by the standings from the previous race. This time, it turned into a fierce battle for the win between Alshin and me right from the start. We pulled away from the rest of the pack from the get-go and engaged in a close battle. We were exchanging positions corner after corner. Throughout the 5 laps, I could hear the exhaust sound of Alshin’s motorcycle when he was tailing me. He was that close! On the penultimate lap, in the last sector, Alshin took the lead, setting the stage for the final lap. At that moment, I was convincing myself to stay calm, not overdo it, and try to catch him.

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Everyone was just as eager to race again and go for the win

I was behind Alshin at the beginning of the final lap, but I had a good exit in the final corner (I wished I could’ve replicated it in the final lap too). I caught up to Alshin in C1 and overtook him in C2. From there, I pushed hard, hoping not to make any mistakes. As I entered the final sector, Alshin was just on my tail, but I got a bit nervous. I braked late, similar to the previous race in the final corner while leading, which resulted in me going wide again and onto the kerbs. As a result, I lost the drive. This time, the gap between me and Alshin was not significant. He had a better drive out of the final corner and overtook me, crossing the checkered flag in first place, with me finishing in 2nd place with a difference of just 0.1 second again. 

I did feel dejected as I lost in the final corner, but this race was one I thoroughly enjoyed, high on adrenaline rush. It felt so good being competitive, exchanging positions corner after corner and battling it out for the 1st position and the best part was even after making a mistake in the final corner I clocked my personal best time of 2:12.888 on the final lap.

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The tightest corner of MMRT with the whole bunch right behind me, it was exciting

Concluding Thoughts on the Race Season

All in all, this racing season was more about me learning and unlocking my potential as a rider. The TVS Apache RTR 200 4V was the perfect tool to go about it, with the proper guidance of the TVS Racing team. I can’t thank TVS enough for this unique opportunity and the experience they provided. I can now confidently say I have learned a lot and have come out as a better and safer rider, which will undoubtedly help me in the future. A big thumbs up to everyone responsible for managing this Young Media Racer Program and making sure that we get to race for 3 rounds. It has been over a decade I wanted to participate in an official race. Being a part of this whole experience, it couldn’t have been any better!

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Kudos to the TVS team for such a kickass event and the friends I made at YMRP, memories itched for life!