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TVS organises its Young Media Racer Program once in a year. This program started back in 2017 and this is their fourth season. Journalists from various publications and from all over the country are called to race against each other on the race-spec TVS Apache RTR 200 4V.
We have been participating in this young media racer program for three seasons now and this time the season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, in total, we were 14 journalists across various publications this time for the training and the qualifying session.
So now let's talk about the training program that TVS organised at Madras Motor Race Track. First of all, all the people gathered at the pit lane where TVS has its stands. We reached there around 7 am in the morning and from a distance, we could hear the Apaches getting ready.
Speaking about these motorcycles, the Apaches that were given to us were completely stripped (for weight reduction) and had a free-flowing exhaust. The power figures were not disclosed completely, but the bikes felt really light and fast due to the reduced weight.
Coming back to the training program, first, there was a quick briefing session where we all gathered and were asked who all have driven or ridden on MMRT before. I was new to the track so I was listening very carefully to what the instructor was telling us. First, he explained the track to us and since it had rained the previous day, some sections of the track were really wet and we were told to go slow or keep an eye for the wet patch.
After that, we explained about the flags that the martial wave to us and one has to keep an eye on as that is the only way to communicate once we are on the track racing. So leaning the flags is really important. Then it was time for us to suit-up and get ready for the training on the track.
We sat on the motorcycles and were divided into groups of four. We were told not to use our brakes and only ride the bike at fourth gear as we were following the trainer. There were markers on the track set by the professional riders near the apexes so that we could learn the perfect lines around the track.
Once that was complete, then was the turn for us to learn the body positioning and vision. Now the vision is the most important thing when one is riding or driving on the race track. Look where you want to go on the track and never get distracted by anything else. If your vision is not correct, then you will be going all over the place.
After you become confident with the vision part, then comes the body positioning. It is not good to hang off too much from the motorcycle also while you are cornering and never keep your body straight also. This is not a process that can be learnt overnight, it needs time.
So after vision and body positioning was explained to us, then came the time to learn how to launch the motorcycle. It is a simple process, reach your marker, engage first gear and hold the front brakes with either one or two fingers. There you keep your eyes at the lights and as soon as the five-second marker is up slowly starting declutching while you are still on the brakes so the motorcycle will start dipping as the front brakes are engaged.
Once the lights go off, drag the clutch and never leave it suddenly. Then either you will have a bad start or pop and wheelie and fall down. The launch rpm completely depends on you, initially, the trainer told us to launch at around 4,000rpm, but I got comfortable and got a good launch at around the 6,000rpm mark.
Then comes the braking, so a cone is set at one end of the track's straight and after we launched the bikes, as soon as we crossed the cone we were supposed to apply the brakes. Now it is recommended to use the front brakes 80 per cent and the rear 20, but if you are comfortable enough, you can only use the front brakes and engine braking and avoid using the rear brakes.
Once that was mastered, then we had our free practice run. We got around 20 minutes of a free practice run and in that, we could ride the motorcycle as much as we could. During the first couple of laps, I took it easy just to get my lines and vision correct and then when I was confident enough, I started pushing the motorcycle. We got around 7 to 8 laps of practice.
Then came the last part of the young media racer program, which was the qualifying session. We were divided into groups of four and there was a 10-second gap between each rider. After one lap, we got three laps each to get our best timing and then had to enter the pits and wait for everyone to finish. After the entire qualifying session was over we got our positions and we are happy to announce that DriveSpark got P5 (with a lap time of 2.29.31) and qualified to go-ahead for the next race.
Thoughts About The Young Media Racer Program Held By TVS
The young media racer program is really amazing, first of all, we got a chance to ride on the track and learn a lot of new things. The second most important thing that this program taught me is you have to remain extremely fit to race a motorcycle around the track.
You may be riding a motorcycle for ages, but when you come to a track and ride everything changes and you learn a lot about how to ride a motorcycle correctly and how committed you have to be with the motorcycle once you are on the race track. We will soon be hitting the race track for the next season that will be held next month so stay tuned for more updates.