The second day of the race and the first session was the qualifying round of the media race, this decides where I stand on the grid. While we were reaching the race track from our hotels, there was a slight amount of drizzle. In the mean time, we also got to know that it had rained heavily last night. Worried yet curious, we imagined the track to be wet and it was. By the time we geared up for qualifying, the sun was out and the track dried up and we were ready to set our timings. Qualifying is for 20 minutes and we were all set out to get our timings. Just at the first lap, there is again a slight amount of drizzle. The track wasn’t hot enough to provide optimum grip either. The wet patches from the last drizzle led to the sliding of tyres.
Others did about 3 laps for qualifying while I did just one and qualified 5th on the grid with a timing of 02.36.896. The fastest qualifying time was 02.25.455, 10 seconds faster than me. The types of flags were explained to us before the race but I got confused when the slippery surface flag was shown and I just entered the pits. Got out of the pits to get another lap but the qualifying stopped. Now it was time to take some rest and watch other races until noon. The media race was scheduled just before lunch. In the meantime, I got to know that there was another media race to be held before this one. The same Apache 200 line-up but running completely stock. At that time, the test riders and the media gave their inputs and some slight modifications came into the picture this time on the bike we were riding.
It was at this time I noticed that the exhaust pipe was stock, it was just the end-can that was replaced. Basically done to play around with the back-pressure. There is a thing about the Apache’s exhaust note, it sounds the best. Here the double-barrel exhaust was replaced with a freeflow. The exhaust note was still bassy and loud but not as loud as the other race-prepped bikes. It was an hour past noon and it was our time to race. We completed our warm-up/sighting lap and were ready on the grid. A pair of paddock girls stood right next to us and we posed for some pictures. Two minutes to the start of the race, the track is emptied. It’s us on our motorcycles and a safety car behind waiting for the green light to flash.
Apache 200 is agile and inspires confidence to follow the racing line faster
You launch when the lights go off. It’s 3, 2, 1, Go! And I had a marvellous start. I got the inner line but the top four riders ahead of me were pretty light and entered the corner early without braking. So as to not tip off anyone, I had to let the throttle off at the first corner and then the formation was fixed for the race. The race was on and the pack at the front was fighting for pole while I was struggling to keep up with the pack rather than improving my position. It was a four lap race and by the end of lap 3, I was at least two seconds slower than the top four. It was at this time, I was racing as well as enjoying the rideability of the Apache 200, the lightness, the ease of riding and the fun.
The four lap race concluded with me starting at 5th and ending at the same position. The best part was, I improved my lap timings by 9 seconds with 2.27.455 being my fastest lap around the track. The experience of riding on the track is one of a kind, intimidating yet requires a calm mind with a lot of mental focus. TVS with the Apache has been setting up grounds to promote racing as a sport in India and the amount of approach and exposure it receives is really great. This track riding experience has got my interest back into track racing and within a few months, I might just hit the track again for competitive racing or just for fun. Thanks to TVS and the Apache 200, it was till date the best weekend of 2017.