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Suzuki India launched the Gixxer Cup in 2015 with the race-spec Gixxer SF motorcycle. Since 2015, the Suzuki Gixxer Cup one-make championship has been an ideal platform for young racers across the country. Suzuki is also conducting the Red Bull Road To Rookies Cup alongside the Gixxer Cup.
For the first time since 2015, Suzuki invited us and our media friends to participate in a race, which was in an endurance format. I was really looking forward to the race weekend as it was my very first time on a race track.
The Suzuki Gixxer Cup MediaEndurance race was held on September 1 and 2, 2018. As I said, it was my first experience on a race track, I was excited to get on the bike. The destination for the race was Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore. Kari is one of the most technical race tracks in India with several tricky corners to deal with.
After landing at the Coimbatore airport, I headed straight to the Kari Motor Speedway to attend the briefing and the practise session. After getting educated about flags and rules on the race track, we were given ten to fifteen minutes of practise session. The track was dry and it was very humid too.
The first time I got on the race-spec Suzuki Gixxer SF, it didn't feel intimidating for a rookie rider. But getting accustomed to the aggressive riding posture was bit of a problem. The Suzuki Gixxer SF comes with racing clip-on handlebars, race-tuned exhaust, performance air filter, rear-set footpegs, race compound tyres and a rear cowl.
The race-spec Suzuki Gixxer SF is a very nimble motorcycle on the track. As it was my first time on the track, it took me some time to figure out the racing line and the behaviour of the bike on the track. After completing five laps around the track our practise session came to an end.
As I said earlier, it was an endurance race. So, each team consists of two riders. The teams were decided through a lucky draw system. I was paired with the experienced Rishaad Mody from Autocar India. Also, the race timing was reduced to 60 minutes from 75 minutes and each rider was allowed to ride for a maximum of 25 minutes in a single stint. Even with the reduced time, it was a tough ask to ride flat out for 15-20 minutes on a challenging race track as Kari Motor Speedway.
The agenda for September 2 (Sunday) was to wake up early and head to the track and finalise a strategy for the race with our respective teammates. Before the qualifying, we were given a brief practise session to warm up the bike and our body. After completing two laps I was finally ready for the qualifying.
To be honest, the qualifying was the toughest session of the whole race weekend. I struggled to get a good rhythm and made countless mistakes on each lap. I knew my pace was way off as compared to other riders. But the start position was decided after taking an average time of both the riders in the team.
Rishaad Mody was the quickest rider in the qualifying session. We managed to post a combined time of 1:40.665 and started the race in a lowly eight position. After the qualifying session, me and Rishaad planned our strategy. We decided that Rishaad will start the race and will try to make up places in the first half of the race. Then me taking over after 20 minutes and then Rishaad taking over for the final stint.
It was a classic Le Mans style race start with one rider holding the bike on one side of the track and the other rider running up to the bike and taking off. It was a very good start for us as Rishaad got a good start and took the race lead. After twenty odd minutes, Rishaad decided to come in.
The rider change was swift and smooth as I quickly jumped on the bike and exited the pit lane. I was reluctant to push the bike as I had no experience of riding on a track, let alone in a race. But with around ten laps under my belt, I felt confident and started to push as the clock ticked.
My stint lasted for around 15 minutes and the hot and humid conditions made it even difficult. Finally, Rishaad called me in as he was ready to take the final run. The pit lane speed was limited to 40km/h and I managed to get the bike back in one piece.
The rider change was quick and Rishaad headed for a final blast. As an experienced rider on track, he was very quick and we managed to finish the race in the third position. I was overwhelmed by the result as it was my very first time on a race track. We managed to finish 35 laps in the allotted 60 minutes.
Overall; it was a thrilling experience on the race track and the race-spec Suzuki Gixxer SF was not at all intimidating for a rookie rider like me. The bike was light and nimble but lacked that low-end torque. You have to keep up the revs to get a good exit from the corners. But it was a scintillating experience at the Kari Motor Speedway and we thank Suzuki for giving us this opportunity.
Thoughts On The Suzuki Gixxer Cup Media Endurance Race
It was a very good initiative by Suzuki to conduct an endurance race for Automobile Journalists. I got my first-hand experience of being on a race track with the Gixxer SF. Overall, it was a wonderful experience for me to ride with some of the experienced riders. The endurance format made the race even more interesting as it was not just about riding fast.