The fastest 16 from the TVS Young Media Racer Programme held in April were selected to race in the media category of the TVS One Make Championship.
Story: Alshin Thomas
Photography: TVS Racing
The first round of the Petronas TVS One Make Championship took place at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of June. Sixteen media personnel, including myself, were selected from the TVS Young Media Racer Programme held in April to compete in the media category. The race weekend consisted of practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday, followed by the main race on Sunday.
As we arrived at the track, we were awestruck by the speed at which the participants from other categories zoomed past on their bikes, engaged in thrilling battles. We then proceeded to suit up and head for the briefing session conducted by Harry Sylvester, a veteran racer from TVS, who gave us some insights regarding the track before we went out for the practice session on the race-prepped Apache RTR 200 bikes.
During the practice session, we quickly realised the tricky nature of the track. For many of us, it was the first time at the renowned Kari Motor Speedway. The challenging layout of the 2.1-kilometre track, consisting of tight and technical turns as well as two long straights, offered valuable lessons to all participants as we learned that any mistake could cost us significant time and positions. The practice session ended and all of us entered the pits, awaiting the result as the qualifying session was scheduled for later in the evening. In my case, I managed to set the fourth fastest time with 1:35.087, within three seconds of pole position.
Feeling more prepared for the qualifying session, I aimed to secure a good starting position on the grid through my timing, which would give an advantage during the race start. We were given five laps to set our fastest times and eagerly returned to the pits to see the results. I qualified fifth, setting a time of 1:33.672, a two-second improvement on the practice session.
Sunday was the race day. The pressure was palpable, intensified by the scorching heat because our race was scheduled for 12.30 pm. We carefully observed and captured insights from the other races, seeking any advantage we could gain for our own race. With fierce competition among the top five racers, we knew we had to push ourselves to the limit on each lap. I devised a plan to execute a Marc Márquez-style move before the first corner right from the race start in the hope of taking the lead. The plan worked flawlessly. As the lights went off, we launched from the grid and while others stuck to the racing line, I stayed on the outside, out-braking them beyond the 50-metre mark and swiftly claiming the lead.
Now came the challenging part: maintaining the lead. I quickened the pace, trying to put some distance between myself and the chasing pack to secure my position. It worked for a lap until I went wide, allowing the rider behind me to take a tighter line and overtake me just before the parabola. Without wasting a moment, I stuck closely behind him, reducing drag by tucking in throughout the straight, and executed a late-braking overtake to reclaim the lead just before turn C1.
The intensity of the race doubled as I caught a glimpse of the riders behind closing in. I managed to hold on to P1 for three consecutive laps until I reached the end of the straight, where three riders overtook me from the inside before C1, pushing me down to fourth place.
After successfully overtaking the rider in front and squeezing into third, the next target was to catch up with the leading duo. As soon as they were in close range, I made a pass on to secure P2. Carrying that momentum, I entered C4, where the poleman went wide, and I seized the opportunity, re-taking the lead once again. However, my reign at the front proved short-lived as the rider behind braked late, using an inside line right before the parabola, which forced me wide and the rider in P3 quickly capitalized on it, moving me down to third place.
With only one lap remaining, I pushed myself to the limit, setting a best lap of 1:30.942, just 0.3 seconds short of the leader. The race concluded with the three of us securing podium positions.
Overall, it was an exhilarating race and the entire experience felt surreal, considering that most of us were racing on a track for the first time.
The second and third rounds of the TVS One Make Championship will be held in August and September respectively at the Madras International Circuit. Equipped with the lessons learnt from the first race, we eagerly await the opportunity to apply our improved race craft, fortified by a stronger mindset and a firm belief in winning the championship.
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