TVS Racing MotoSoul Early Bird Tickets Go On...
- Aug 20, 2019
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Last year I was fortunate enough to take part in a media race organised by TVS Racing. Understandably, the track racing bug had bitten me hard and I was itching to go back to the hallowed race track and enjoy the real joy of motorcycling. But given the hectic schedule in office, my dream of riding on the racetrack remained elusive. But all that changed when TVS Racing sent out an invite to ZigWheels stating that they are organising a special media racing series for select journalists titled “TVS Young Media Racer Program”. The basic criterion for participating was simple – the rider should be below 30 years of age. Luckily for me, Kartik put forward my name to participate in this unique series and two weeks later I was in Chennai to attend the training session before I could go racing. Also Read - TVS Apache RTR200 Media Race - Living the dream
The race bike provided to us is based on the TVS Apache RTR200 (carburettor). As you would have figured out, TVS engineers have tuned the motorcycle to better suit its racing purpose. Visually it looks similar to the road bike barring the masking tape on the headlight while the leg guard, mirrors, saree guard, rear mudguard and tyre hugger have been removed for weight reduction. The race-spec motorcycle also features a different exhaust muffler. The new race exhaust makes the motorcycle sound raw and throaty while also helping in weight reduction.
All the weight saving has resulted in the TVS Apache RTR 200 race bike being 13kg lighter than the stock bike. The engine was also retuned for a better mid-range and top-end which was felt on the race track. The motor also gets K&N air filter and the engineers have extracted 2PS more than the stock engine, which take its power output to 22PS. The bike runs on Pirelli tyres as seen on the road bike and though they offer good grip, I would have preferred softer compound race-spec tyres instead.
Learning The Basics:
Before I could step foot on the race track there was an all-important theory class. The motive of the first session was to brush up our knowledge with the basics of track riding. Our instructor was no other than racing veteran Emmanuel Jebaraj who is fondly addressed as Jeba. We were made to understand the various rules and regulations of racing and what the do’s and don’ts on the race track are. Next up, we were made to understand what the meaning of the various colour flags that are shown by the track marshals are. Another important aspect of track riding is to unlearn what we have been following for over these years as riding on track is vastly different from riding on streets.
Application Of Learnings:
Once the theory session was done it was time to ride and we were riding the TVS Apache RTR200 race bike, and clearly my excitement levels were sky high. The track session was for 20 minutes so that we could understand our bike better and were asked to follow TVS racers (Jagan Kumar, KY Ahmed and Harry Sylvester). The main purpose of riding behind the TVS racers was so that we can understand what lines should we take on the track, how to brake effectively (using only front brake) and mark our braking points for corner entries. Riding behind the professionals helped a lot as the lines that they take are much tighter but obviously faster and I was feeling confident on the bike.
We were guided by the racers about body positioning as it is very important to sit properly on the bike so that you enter and exit corners smoothly without unsettling the bike. Other learnings included the importance of vision while riding and tips for better throttle management. The highlight for me was to finish my braking before I enter the corner, hit the apex and open the throttle only on the exit. According to the racers this technique is faster as the forks aren't compressed much and this improves exit speeds. Some journalists who had done the California Superbike School (CSS) were finding the instructions given by the racers hard to fathom but Jeba sorted that out by saying “CSS makes you a better rider, we make you a better racer.”
The final session consisted of 30 minutes free practice on the track. We were given a last moment briefing on crash management and this was an informative session. The instructors told us what to do in the scenario of a crash to limit damage to your body, something I hope that I wouldn’t have to encounter. An important aspect of racing is “launch” -- a perfect launch can help you make up some positions on the grid as you enter the first corner and vice versa. The TVS racers taught us the perfect clutch release so that you can make a good start without the front tyre saluting the tarmac and you losing out on precious tenths of a second. I divided the 30 minutes of track time into two sessions; first session was used in applying the knowledge I received from the racers at a slower pace.
Once I felt that I have figured out the racing lines and braking points I started pushing the TVS Apache RTR 200 to better understand its performance at higher speeds. I personally feel that you are in a Zen state on the race track as you push yourself and the bike to its absolute limit and that feeling is something that is hard to put into words. I did have a few anxious moments on the bike but luckily nothing serious. At the end of the session, I was exhausted but with a wide grin which is the joy of riding on a race track. I had topped the timing sheets and this made the experience sweeter for me on a personal note but I know racing is altogether a different ball game and I shouldn’t get too complacent. Our first race of the season was cancelled owing to rains and Race 1 has been rescheduled to June 8th in Chennai. Wish us luck.
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