I do not own a GoPro – or any other action cam- (wish I did), or this would’ve been easier. But that’s the challenge, isn’t it? Although, I cannot show you how it was, I can tell you what I truly felt. Here is me, a young auto journalist, mesmerized riding around the mighty Buddh International Circuit. How, you ask? TVS Racing.
Completing the first two rounds of our TVS Young Media Racers program at Kari Motor Speedway and Madras Motor Race Track, respectively, TVS now invited us to race its Race Spec RTR 200s around India’s Buddh International Circuit. I wouldn’t be fooled if our super kind cab driver took us to the circuit on a Friday night because I couldn’t wait to be there.
10 hours later, I was gazing at our Indian flag fly high, marking a territory for itself to an international standard race circuit where Formula 1 cars once roared. To the left, I couldn’t miss the Orange, White and Green colored seats the grandstand was full of, and to the right were these beautiful looking TVS race machines we would be charioted around the track with.
Looked at the machine and wondered how to kill time on the 1.2 km back straight BIC is famous for. Next thing I know, I am doing 145 km/h on the RTR 200 during practice (I got one of few bikes with the speedo working, when usually on a race spec motorcycle, they do not), braking too early to take the C4 right hand corner. You see, instincts when a corner suddenly pops out while enjoying the tarmac for what it is.
BIC is a long 5.12 km track where room for error and correction is vast. While the first couple laps of practice was just to enjoy being there, when I really tried pushing hard is when I realized how fast and technical the track is. Every time I got to the almost-U right hander C3 is where I lost momentum and I just couldn’t make sense of how to cut the C10 parabola. Result? 3:17:725, my best for the session on the RTR.
TVS’s Harry Sylvester as easily approachable as he is, taught us how to really make use of the entire track and cut through corners to better our timings. Qualifying was up next and the result, 3:14:637 and 6th on the grid. Credits to Harry for helping me shave close to 3 seconds (which is a lot in race terms).
Also check: Learning the art of Track Racing
Later then, Race spec TVS Apache RR310s’ exhausts, overwhelming Volkswagen Ameo cup race cars and the Idemitsu Hondas, delighted the evening with echoes of mechanical magic. Magic it was, for I was truly present to witness it.
Raceday, and the weather was perfect! Shining were our machines, preparing them the super talented mechanics, gearing up the racers and lost in thoughts, me! The atmosphere around the track is calm, really calm, until it is not.
Reflecting back on the practice and qualifying we had the previous day, I knew it was time to put everything I learnt to use. But our race was only later that afternoon, and until then it was the TVS and Volkswagen stunt shows that were cheered high.
6th on the grid, engines revving, lights go down and off we go. I got a great start to jump positions and almost lead the race by the end of the front straight. I did manage to hold second up until the tricky C3 until I was pushed back to 3rd.
I was then pushing harder and harder to get to the race leader while holding my position. There were times even during the race where I was learning lap after lap to get my lines right and better my timings. But my hardcore fellow racers did not let me do that comfortably.
Every time I made a mistake or went wide, I saw someone pass me. And that made the battle intense until the last corner of the last lap. Just when I held my 3rd and entered the strenuous last corner onto the front straight, I hear a fellow racer crash behind me while trying to take me down for the last time during the race. Unfortunate for him, I finished 3rd. Timings – 3:06:845, my best.
Shaved close to 10 seconds from practice. I couldn’t believe it! Staring at my machine, I wondered how that happened. Adrenaline during the race? Riding skills? Hidden capabilities of the RTR? I do not know.
It’s just amusing to me as to how well behaved the TVS RTR 200 was on the track. The things a race spec motorcycle can do is far more than a normal machine. I could then just imagine and behold what a higher capacity motorcycle, if not, the TVS RR310 could do on a race track.
The RTR is light, focused and agile. It is naked and you cannot expect to lean into corners the way you would on a faired motorcycle. But for a 200cc tuned naked, the RTR makes a really good track weapon. A track weapon that can leave young journalists like me in awe. It is moments like these that we aspire to feel, days like these that make us hungry for more and opportunities from companies like TVS that leave us spellbound.