The Motoroids Duo try to have an exciting day burning rubber at the go-kart track at Hiranandani, Mumbai.
Words: Karthik a.k.a. Karkai6
Photography: Karthik and Gopinath a.k.a. Razorblades (Mumbai Motorep)
I had been waiting for ARE since the day I booked it and man, was it hyped! The brochure they had given me built up my expectations pretty well and I was literally reduced to maintaining a ‘Days to go’ calendar for the event. Two days before the event, I met with my co-participant Mr. Razorblades a.k.a. Gopinath for a small chit-chat and to hand him the ARE ‘kit’ (which consisted of stickers and a Brochure, none of which we used!). Razor advised me to keep my expectations down as the track was a Go-Kart Track, cement of course and that it might be slippery and all that. So we came to the conclusion that they probably would show us a bit of stunts, tell us this and that and ask us to go home as it most probably would be a dumb show. We even went to the track, checked it out and analyzed the areas on the track which could lead us to a probable fall. Now, I am a regular karter at that track with a decent pace and I simply loved that place in a kart. But Razor was confident of his analysis and I must have looked like a kid whose candy was snatched from his hand.
The Event – Arrival:
The event was scheduled to start at 8:30 AM in the Morning. I reached there at 7:50AM. Upon enquiry, I was told the event would start at 9:30 AM. Typical, I thought. Razor joined me a few minutes later and we walked around the place checking out the TVS Race bikes and the Pro kitted RTRs they were unloading from the truck. Hell yeah, they amazing to look at! Took photos from all angles possible (We were just doing it to eat time!). Nearby, we could hear the racers joking and talking in Tamil. Now, that happened to put a smile across my face as me and Razor were shared the same mother tongue, Tamil too. I tried walking around them trying to mutter a word or two in Tamil so that I could grab their attention. Nope, they did not fall for that. The racers were people whom I had read of in magazines, like G.Vishwanath, Karthik, Joshua etc. all National Champions. I surely was thrilled and waiting for any chance to initiate a conversation. I kept waiting.
The Pro-kitted RTRs
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At this point, I should explain the track here.
C1: The toughest turn on the Track. Off- Camber double apex right hander, which is downhill after Turn-in. Tricky and tough to get the entry speed right.
C2: Left hand hairpin, very important to get the exit from C1 right if there was hope of making it around this properly. It also was very dusty because it was normally an unused part of the track.
C3: Flat out right hander, relatively easy and fun.
C4: Right Hander, a good chance to get the knee down and my favorite corner, because I used to screw up c2 and then catch up in this corner.
C5: Fast right hander and dangerously bumpy. Taken with just a touch on the front brake. Many people crashed here due to the speeds involved and target fixation.
The stunts and the shows:
Then it started. The two TVS road racers (Harris and Karthik) started to learn the track riding the pro-kitted RTRs and it was exciting to watch them perform flawless knee downs and I was thinking to myself if this thing was really so easy. Then, Harris had a major rear wheel slide in C1 which he saved, but the damage had been done in my mind. I started thinking if the racers themselves were finding this corner slippery, I had better watch my step. The stunts honestly did not do much for me because I wanted to really get out there and ride and I sort of was waiting for the stunts to get over.
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They had a small theory session for us. Stuff learnt in:
1) Getting the knee out, it should be parallel to the front forks, and not just hanging out the leg for the sake of it.
2) The perfect Launch, and how to do it.
Road Racing –
1) The classic Line, Outside, inside and outside.
2) How to position the body during cornering and how to hang off.
Frankly, I felt they should have concentrated on braking more. Most of the guys today had problems under braking. Reasons being, the track was dusty and not very grippy, and most of the participants braked hard on their rear wheel, sending them fishtailing out of control. But then, we did not know it then.
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The First Run:
We were sent out in batches of five. Me and Razor stuck together in a batch along with a few of Razor’s friends. Karthik, the racer led us and he slowly increased his pace lap by lap. I stuck to the tail of the group while Razor stuck to Karthik. I was finding it very difficult to take C2 effectively as I was turning in very early in C1, exiting wide into the inside of C2 and screwing up C2. But I surely was relishing C3, C4 and C5, as all of them were at fun speeds, though C5 felt dangerously bumpy. Razor, on the other hand said he was enjoying C2, as he was able to get his knee down there. He even slid on C5 once, though he managed to catch it. I was doing embarrassingly stupid slides under braking into C1, which did not look cool at all, and probably made me look as if I had touched a brake lever for the first time.
The grid for the first run.
The Beauty and The Razor
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KarKai6 turning into C1
Karthik said What I already knew, that My line into C1 was wrong. I was probably entering faster than I should have; getting screwed up in the mind, turning then and there, and voila, an early entry. And also, I had another problem. I do not hang out too much normally when I corner in the hills. Here, I realized I was leaning too much if I sat on straight, so I started to hang off, and the track was so twisty that one had to constantly and swiftly shift the ass from one side to another on the seat. By the time I braked, downshifted and got into position, the corner was already behind me. Hmm… Not good at all. I was getting screwed up in my mind, was not able to figure out how to take C1 and C2 quickly.
Razor’s Tentative steps into C1 and C2
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The Experts opinion:
Me and Razor walked around, introducing ourselves to anyone who spoke in Tamil. We talked with Vishwanath, Joshua, and the Mech from TVS Racing. Talked as in, they gave their time to sit with us, have a chit chat, gossip about TVS, advice about how to take corners, and talk about their future. It was surprising how easily we could approach them. They were so alarmingly friendly, that one would mistake that they wanted to talk to you and not vice versa. They also took a liking for Razor, coz he was quicker than lots of us, and I was hanging round them trying to grab onto whatever they had to say. I was trying to think (I was not successful) on how to go quicker than I already was going and yet not shit in my pants.
The Second Run:
Now it was time for us to go out by ourselves, no one to lead us, we just had to set our own pace. I stuck in behind Razor, trying to figure out his lines. Then I realized, thinking and analyzing in an AC room is one thing, doing it out on track is another. However I tried to approach C1, it still was giving me the jitters. Either I was doing it at a snail’s pace, or I would be going in too fast and looking like an idiot. It constantly was either of the two. Razor pulled ahead a little bit, and to be honest, I was more interested in keeping my bike off the tyre walls than to observe Razor’s lines. The session was over after 6 laps, and I was furious with myself for not having improved my turn 1 fiasco. However by this time, I was really starting to enjoy all the faster corners.
Any event is incomplete without the usual bunch of wannabe heroes, the roadside rowdies. Doing wheelies at the most inappropriate times possible and without helmets, incurring the wrath of the organizers and generally pissing off the crowd. We did have one hilarious guy, who wanted to join the grid ‘Most Wanted’ style, that is ride the wrong way towards the grid, do a 180 under braking, and join the grid facing the right side. He did speedup the wrong way towards the grid, but lost it under the brakes and skidded right past the grid and fell down in a heap. Everyone in the crowd enjoyed it to the fullest.
We had three races, for the three groups.
Race 1: People were panic braking everywhere, looking at the brake lights of the guy in front and honestly it looked scary. The eventual had to happen soon and we had a crasher. He entered C1 too fast, decided against it, stood the bike up and hit his rear brake. Recipe for disaster. He also had borrowed Razor’s Jacket, which scared Razor to no end.
Race 1 restart: We had another crasher in C4, a pretty fast crash, fortunately, no one was hurt. The bike was, though.
Race 1 Restart again: With three people now, the race was somehow done with.
Race 2: Five people again, still scarily panic braking looking at each others’ brake lights. We had two people side by side into C1. The Guy on the outside Brakes hard, loses it and crashes right into a parked bike. The irony, the bike was of the Guy who crashed wearing Razor’s jacket. He damaged the bike more by this crash than his own crash.
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It was time for Group 3. I honestly was not ready for a race. I wanted laps, practice laps. I decided I was not going to race anyone, I’ll let everyone pull ahead, and I’ll do my pace. So, the plan was set. We arranged at the grid. Joshua’s launch technique was awesome. It helped make a really quick launch to what I was used to. I backed off a little, waited for everyone to turn into C1, and then followed them. To my surprise, Razor was in front of me. He had a bad start and got to the back. I followed him around for a lap, but Razor was on the move. Vishwanathan, who had become a good friend by this time, was standing outside C4, waving to Razor to take a later entry. Razor got a very good drive out of C4, up the hill, overtaking two riders in the process. I managed to pull alongside the guy in fourth, but overtaking in C5 was not too easy, so backed off and waited for another chance.
Next Lap, same situation. I got a good drive out of C4, got side by side into C5. But suddenly, I saw a crashed bike in front of me. I got on the brakes out of instinct. The bike went straight, slowly tapping the tyre wall. It was Razor. He had crashed. I immediately got out and checked on him. His gloves had torn and his hand was bleeding. They had an ambulance ready and Razor was swiftly treated. Then we learnt that it had been the last lap. Razor had crashed out on the Last lap, last corner. Every racer there, and I mean every racer were like “Why Gopi? You were going good! Why fall down now?” Gopi did not understand what had happened. The rear had slid out without warning and he had gone right into the tyre wall. Upon analysis later, we discovered that he had found a nasty bump in that corner, unsettling his bike. So, that was it. End of race, end of story.
The winners got to ride the RTR pro-kitted bikes, and man did they sound good!! One guy even managed to drop the pro kitted bike at C5. They did a couple of timed laps and the fastest two got a free participation for the Apache one make race to be held later on in the year.
Was it worth it?
Hell yes. Let me count it out.
1. Free T shirt
2. Riding a bike on Hakone Go-kart track. Very exclusive!
3. Free Lunch. A KFC Veggie snacker and a Minute maid bottle
4. Meeting up with Champion riders who also happen to be great blokes.
5. Realization that I am nowhere on a track and I had Mt. Everest in front of me now.
6. A strong desire to visit the MMSCT. A desire to be quicker.
Hell yes, this was worth many times the 250 bucks I gave them!