- It was a regular workday at the office when we received an email from TVS corporate communication team to be a part of the 5th Edition of the TVS Young Media Racer Programme. We are really grateful to TVS for providing us with this incredible opportunity because there was a limitation on the number of people they could have invited due to the ongoing pandemic and the rules associated with it. It was a dream come true to be able to get formal Race Track training and that too, from legends like Jagan Kumar and K.Y Ahmed (both highly decorated TVS factory riders).
The TVS Young Media Racer Programme was formulated to train and encourage young novice riders with no hands on-track experience and make them faster on the racetrack and safer on the road. The aim was simple – to learn, enjoy, execute, race, do not crash, do not worry about qualifying, follow the trainer’s teachings, avoid committing errors. And if we managed to do all that, we also stood a chance for qualifying.
Welcome and Training
Team TVS managed the entire show with perfection. Since the pandemic’s 2nd wave wasn’t completely over yet, riders from Maharashtra had to get an RTPCR done before leaving Chennai again and that too was managed by TVS, for which we are really grateful to them. Every rider was provided with a personal cottage at a beautiful resort which was just 2kms from MMRT, a welcome kit that included a mask, a bottle of water, a balaclava, a TVS branded t-shirt, sanitiser and a schedule for the days to follow.
Day 1 was meet and greet where we met all the riders. We landed there with just one intention in mind: to enjoy and learn the basics of track riding. A healthy, delicious dinner followed by a short brief of the school scheduled to be followed on the next day and we went to bed with a map of the circuit to memorise the corners.
Day 2 (Training and qualification Day) did not start as anticipated. It was pouring all through the night and when we reached the track, it was damp with some sections being too risky for new riders. The experts from TVS analysed the situation and decided to use just half the section of the race track for our training. Honestly, that went in our favour, smaller track means, lesser corners to memorise, lesser ‘right gears’ to remember. While the pros were busy deciding the track length, we were already in the class wearing our TVS jerseys and sitting with pen and a diary in hand, waiting for the session to begin. We were introduced to our Track Gurus Mr K.Y.Ahamed, Mr Harry Sylvester and Mr Jagan Kumar and all of them are very decorated and acclaimed names in the Indian motorsport scenario. The first thing that we were told was, ‘If you are fast enough to overtake the trainer anytime during the training programme, it is not because you are too good, it will probably be because they let you. They are very fast but will be riding slowly to make sure everyone is able to watch them and learn.’
Tyres and Bikes
Though we went there with a mindset of riding the RTR 200, which most of us have already got a chance to ride in the past, the bikes which were prepared for us were no ordinary RTRs. These mean-looking TVS RTR 200s were specially prepared for track use with all the non-essential parts stripped out of them. No headlight, no rearview mirrors, no side/centre stand, no tail light, highly tuned engines, free-flow exhaust and the best bit were the TVS Euro Grip tyres which added to our confidence to go faster on the track.
Class Room session
This was one of the most important sessions where we were taught about the lean angle and counter steering, race lines, entry, apex and exit. The most important being the Flags and the etiquette to enter and exit the pit lanes. Every flag has an important role to play in order to maintain safety on the track.
First Few Laps
Post introduction we were all provided with proper FMSCI approved race suits, Gloves and race Boots. No need to worry about the availability of your size, Team TVS has a huge range of Gears and no matter what your size is, they had the perfect suit for everyone. The group was divided into 2 and half were under the able guidance of Mr KY Ahamed and the other half under Mr Jagan Kumar. Both the groups left after around 1 min intervals. The first few laps were reserved for warm-up and to get used to the heavy and snug riding gear with the bikes in a constant 3rd gear and slow riding around the circuit to understand the traction and cornering angles. Each rider was given an opportunity to ride exactly behind the trainer for 1 complete lap to understand the perfect entry and exit lines of each corner and to try to imitate the perfect riding posture directly from the experts.
We did almost 20-25 laps before the 2nd round of classroom training where we had a recap and doubt clearance session. Shortly after, we were back on our respective bikes. It was certainly a struggle for new riders to keep up with the trainers but they had their eyes on all of us. In one instance, Mr Jagan Kumar slowed down, let other riders pass, just so that we can manage to catch him and learn the proper race lines at high speed. While we were struggling to keep the bikes moving around corners, our trainers could easily ride with just one hand on the handlebar with the other one encouraging us to catch up on speed and attempt to go faster.
We had an interactive session post our track training followed by Lunch and even though we had a scrumptious breakfast, Chennai heat clubbed with cloudy weather and our thick leather race suits cooking our bodies inside like rotisserie chicken made us all dehydrated and hungry. Post Lunch we had our launch training as well as hard breaking practice sessions. The importance of both these was realised when we actually compared the same rider on his lap time between a good and a bad launch. The trick is to make sure your RPM is high (upwards of 4k) while trying to not wheelie the bike at launch.
We started off fast on straights with a medium pace around corners. The goal was to clock one perfect lap so that we can get our name registered in the qualifying list. A miracle soon followed as one rider took over our representative and then the adrenaline kicked in. This is what our representative had to say ‘The way he overtook me, there was a different rush in my body. Having grown up watching VR46 setting the track on fire, I shot after the rider and just made sure I followed the lines I am comfortable with and not just blindly follow him. I couldn’t overtake him but that ended up being my fastest lap. Later that day when the top 12 riders name was announced, I was the 12th one the list yet proud of myself with a big smile on my face.’
For an aspiring racer, TVS’ racing programmes are the place to be! You get to learn the basics from the best in the business and that certainly helps in making you a better rider, whether on the racetrack or public roads. We owe our lap-time to both of our trainers and TVS for making sure the entire experience was confidence-inspiring with safety as their primary concern. We all want to get acquainted with how to ride fast around a racetrack and become a better rider but to get an opportunity to get trained by one of the finest in the country, only TVS could have pulled off this feat and they sure did it with perfection.