We were invited to the seventh edition of the TVS Young Media Racer Programme, a unique initiative aimed at providing aspiring young media personnel with hands-on experience in the field of motorcycle circuit racing
Story: Alshin Thomas
Photography: TVS Racing
The Young Media Racer programme, organised by TVS Racing, selects a group of young journalists and automotive influencers to participate in races through the season alongside the national championship. The selected participants undergo a rigorous training programme that includes both theoretical and practical training sessions where they learn various aspects of racing such as track etiquette, racing lines, and bike set-up, etc. The highlight of the programme is the actual racing wherein the participants get an opportunity to race on a track. This not only gave us a chance to experience the thrill of racing first-hand but also enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of the sport and the challenges faced by professional racers.
All of us journos and the influencers had an early start and were taxied to the track for the day’s briefing. The track, as expected, was very hot with humidity rising by the minute. I could feel my throat dry up on account of the heat and the anxiety and that’s when I saw the race-spec Apache RTR 200s that we were going to ride on the track and they looked beautiful.
The briefing began with some light humour and introductions to the TVS racing team. Vinod Babu and Pradeep H K gave us an introduction to the programme, TVS’ racing history, and basic track etiquette. We were then introduced to our track instructors, Deepak Ravikumar, Jagan Kumar, and our classroom instructor, Harry Sylvester, who are all professional racers of the TVS Racing factory team. We were segregated into two batches, which would swap between track time and classroom sessions. The sessions covered throttle control, braking, racing lines, body position, and a race-start exercise.
While we sat on our bikes, awaiting our turn to attempt the race start in the middle of the track, I realised how important it is to be physically fit. The whole thing is a test of endurance as well. How well you can survive in the heat, manage the cramps, manage the mental pressure, and the physical toll without losing morale are among the many things to look out for when racing.
We had our lunch and proceeded to prepare ourselves for the free practice session, which would be followed by the qualifying laps. They gave us 10 minutes for both, with a small break in between to rest and collect ourselves. I prepared myself mentally as I watched the mechanics prep the bikes for the hot laps ahead. The process would be a warm-up lap followed by three laps to set the fastest time possible, after which we would enter the pit-lane.
I rode as fast as I could with each lap during the free practice and felt a lot more confident before the qualifying session. And I was a lot quicker too. I shaved off a significant amount of time by the second lap of qualifying, making me sure that the final lap would be my fastest. However, I made the mistake of coming in too fast into C2 and losing focus for a second when I saw two riders ahead of me go off-track and crash, causing me to miss the apex I was supposed to hit. Disappointed but not disheartened, I rode even harder to make up for the time lost.
With a time of 2:23.50, I managed to qualify for the media championship along with 15 others. Of course, a lot of improvement is needed before I can bring home any accolade. The races will be held at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore and at the Madras International Circuit alongside the National Championship, which gets under way in June. I have a month left to train now.
In conclusion, the TVS Young Media Racer Programme offers a unique opportunity for young media riders to hone their skills and understand what it takes to be a racer. The programme’s focus on safety and professional training makes it an asset to the motor sport community and we would highly recommend it to anyone looking to enter the world of racing.