TVS Young Media Racer Program: A Newbie’s Experience

  • Apr 29, 2023
  • Views : 2098
  • 5 min read

We got to be a part of the TVS Young Media Racers Program, and here are the perspectives from a newbie’s point of view about the training and selection round

TVS Apache Race Bike 1

The moment I got a call from my colleague Arun Nadar informing me about my participation in TVS Young Media Racers Programme, I was overwhelmed with excitement. However, reality dawned upon me that my Radeon-riding self was a complete newbie -- a stark contrast to most of my been-there-done-that colleagues. 

Even though there was none of the peer pressure from my colleagues, I really had just one thing in mind: Keep it rubber side down. Sure, you learn from a crash, but I was more worried about losing confidence post crash, or worse, having a smaller crash that hampers my timing. From being nervous in the morning to having the “let’s do this” attitude in the evening, it’s been a phenomenal learning curve. Here’s how it transpired:

“Crap, I can’t breathe!”

TVS Race Bike 2

Racing is all about being disciplined and at the peak of physical fitness. Sliding into the race suit was the eye-opening reminder of how far from fit I am. I could feel my lung capacity go down in direct proportion to the zipper sliding up my torso. Our first session was to learn the nuances of flags used at the track and their meaning. While you’re out on the track, there really is no other way to convey what’s happening in the circuit without the coloured flags. We headed to the race track once the classroom session was over.

Our tool for the track day was a race-spec, carburetted TVS Apache RTR 200 4V. The biggest mod was the super slim, well-rounded 110-section Eurogrip Protorq Extreme rear tyre - as opposed to the fat 130-section unit in the stock bike, and a 90-section front Remora. Another notable aspect of the race bike was the free-flow race exhaust that pops, crackles to glory every time you roll off the throttle. In fact, in the first session when I downshifted a little too early, the exhaust was so noisy that the rider in front of me panicked and veered off the track. Well, good for me, then!

TVS Apache modified bike

The lead riders, including Jagan Kumar, a ten-time national champion, took it easy with us, showing us the ropes of riding the correct racing line, pointing out the marshal posts along the way. These expert racers have the entire layout of the track ingrained in them so much that they were able to take the corners purely by intuition while their eyes were on us, making sure we’re keeping up with them. There were tapes marking the correct approach to a corner, one that allows you to carry the maximum speed. It was the closest thing one could get in place of a full-fledged racing line that you see on video games. We also had to ride without using brakes on this session but that wasn’t that much of a deal considering we weren’t going all-out and we still had engine braking to abate our cornering speeds.

“Good lord, am I really going that fast?” 
Narrator: He actually wasn’t

TVS Racing Bike

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As soon as we were done with the first session, we had to head back to the classroom right away for a quick crash course in body posture. Instructor Harry Sylvester gave us tips on how you switch positions while cornering, how to ‘feel’ the lean angle by scraping your knees, among other things. While it gave us a fair idea about how you’re supposed to fight centrifugal force by leaning into the corner, it takes time and practice to perfect. I’m used to touring, so it was incredible to witness the body going lower, closer to the road than usual, giving me an illusion of being faster than I actually am, at the race track.  

“Okay, I’m getting the groove”

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Race Bike

“Trust the tyres” -- the golden words of my colleague Ishan Lee kept ringing in my ears. The skinny tyres made it incredibly easy to tip in, all the while offering phenomenal grip. It’s a little tricky to realise this, but once you get the hang of it, it’s smooth sailing from then on. Lap after lap, I slowly started gaining confidence. 

“I’ll either pass out due to the intense heat or survive long enough to qualify”

TVS YMRP Conclusion

The sweltering heat and humidity was dialled to a hundred as we were in our race suits. I could not afford to remove it as I wanted to conserve as much energy as I could. I could feel my breath shortening, my mind threading the thin line between consciousness and unconsciousness. As we pulled out of the pits, I reminded myself that this is an opportunity that doesn’t come too often, especially an all-expenses paid one. My desi subconscious seemed to readily agree with it, giving me a burst of adrenaline to survive the next 45-odd minutes. Thankfully, TVS timed both practice and qualifying rounds, acknowledging the possibility of heat-induced fatigue in the later laps. 

I was getting better lap after lap in the practice session. However, in the qualifying round, I was not able to decide whether it was safe to overtake a slower rider ahead of me, out of the fear of being flagged down. But eventually, I found an opening wide enough to make my move. Though this affected my pace in the lap, I was able to get on the groove in the subsequent ones.

When the time came for the results, something in me kept assuring that I’d qualify. There were 31 riders in total out of which the 16 fastest riders were to move on to the second round, likely to happen some time in June. I waited with bated breath until finally I ended up being the sixteenth rider, the last one to qualify! With a timing of 2:36.3, I was mighty impressed with myself, especially for an absolute noob on the track. Time to ‘git good’ for the next round, then! 

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