After the practice and qualifying session in May, the 12 successful racers were flown to Kari Motor Speedway for Race 1. The event unfolded and took various turns with drama, drama, excitement, anxiety and an overflow of emotions throughout. Let’s take a look at all of this.
Practice and qualifications
TVS organized the Media Race with INMRC Race 1 at Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore. The track was recently updated with a new layout, adding a few more corners and also looked like the tarmac had been overhauled. Although the track as a whole is quite smooth to ride/drive, it is the layout that makes Kari one of the most technical and engaging race tracks in India. The turns are quite tight, the wind hits you from all sides and gets even weirder as dusk approaches. It was my first time riding such a demanding track, but the adrenaline rush overshadowed the anxiety. Either way, we were in the seats of our assigned bike—TVS Apache RTR 200 4V race-ready with a new, fresh Petronas livery.
Everyone calmed down during the practice session because we hadn’t yet determined the speeds for the corners and our brake markers as well. As the session progressed, everyone picked up the pace and began to understand the trajectories they were comfortable with. For reference, at the straight line, the inside line feels and looks faster than the outside line. However, the same line also makes it difficult for the rider to enter the C1 (left corner) since he is opposite the entry point of the turn. It is therefore necessary to brake towards the 100m marker then tip the bike from the outside line, which is much more practical. Once you get out of C1, the bike should have enough drag with the throttle brought back, so you can get into C2 and get it off the outside line.
There are a few corners where me and a lot of other riders made consistent mistakes. For example, the entrance to the C4 is supposed to be wide enough that the C5 sits roughly right in front of you. Even the last hairpin turn humbled everyone. If and whenever there was a fight between riders at the last turn, some would manage to pass others using the inside lines while others would be able to carry higher speeds by taking the outside line.
My fastest lap time in practice was around 1:41:760. “No problem, let’s capture the errors of the qualifiers during the race (irony), I said to myself. So the day was about to end with media qualifying set as the last track outing. All 12 of us pushed ourselves to the limit lap after lap. Once done, we saw the timing sheet and I finished the last one.
In addition to constantly struggling in some corners, a slight incident on the second lap left me a little shivering. When I entered C4, the bike stalled in second gear even though the revs were high enough and immediately started up again. But since the throttle was still stuck halfway through, the rear ended up a bit choppy and I ended up pretty much off the track. The same was reported to the mechanics and they discovered that the bike was in desperate need of a new spark plug. Not to mention, one of us reporters also encountered an accident that caused him to pull out of the event. That was it for day one and we were 7pm into the very first race of the season.
When we came back to the track on Sunday, everyone had a different attitude before the race. All the chatter of the past two days has gone and everyone’s focus is just on the race. I also started watching the POV (point of view) videos of the races in Kari on the web to review the layout and the racing lines. This meant a bare minimum to no chirping with other riders.
1:30 p.m., June 12, 2022, the media race began and we lined up at our grid positions after a formation lap. According to my timing, I was the last. So the only crucial element that needed to be executed perfectly was the launch. Well, like in the practice session, I was able to throw the bike perfectly off the line and that helped me immediately gain a spot from the rider in front. The laps followed one another while the 11 of us were focused on one thing: going fast, not crashing. The last 4-5 riders had their own race as we occasionally passed each other either on the straights or on the final hairpin.
The whole race was pretty much smooth until the first-place driver encountered a low-side crash at the penultimate corner. The marshals immediately waved the yellow flags and every bike after the crashed one had to slow down. As it happened before the last corner of the last lap, the riders didn’t have much distance to cover. So as soon as the green flags were raised and the race started, the bikes came back to full throttle and we were all across the finish line in seconds. It’s fair to say that the end of Race 1 was nothing short of dramatic, but that’s what motorcycle racing is. Uncertainty and misadventures still lurking in the shadows.
Even though getting on the podium or being in the top 5 was not possible this time, I was quite satisfied as my lap time went from 1:41:760 to 1:36:135. It’s five seconds faster than qualifying, and I hope to improve for the races to come. See you next in August at the MMRT.