TVS Young Media Racer Program 2019 Round-Up: It's More Than Just Racing
As the TVS Young Media Racer Program 2019 comes to a close, a look at back at the year that's gone by shows that it has been more than just about racing.
Class of 2019. (Photo: TVS)
It all started with an e-mail that came from TVS Motor Company in January informing about the upcoming season of the TVS Young Media Racer Program and asking whether we would be interested in participating in it. Of course, the answer was yes. And now, after undertaking an academy, training off-road, and three races later, it is time to look back at the year that's gone by. And interestingly, it has not been just about racing.
I know, a racer program that's not been just about racing sounds a bit weird but you will find out why we say this.
The idea behind the TVS Young Media Racer Program is to let journalists from all over the country have a chance in participating in a year-long championship and have the same experience as a professional racer. This has been talked about, written about and spoken about several times by all the racers till now, but what I want to bring your attention to are the things that you may not know.
The idea to write about this stems from the fact that I, unfortunately, ended up missing the last race of the season. Now at the start of the year if you would have told me that what would I miss if I happen to miss a race later in the year, then I would have certainly spoken things like track time, experience and so on. While all of that is true, it took a missed race to realise that there is so much more to this championship. And to understand it, we need to go back to the start of the year.
You see, when I met the other racers participating this year, it was at the first event as part of the championship which was the training academy. That day, 19 of us showed up out of which the top 15 qualified for the season, but the experience of being on a race track, learning, trying to go fast, and not worrying about a review (as is the case with track-based motorcycle launches), the experience was a rather refreshing one. Then, we went off-road to practice our motorcycle skills a bit more before the championship kicked off. Then, came the first race, then the second one and then finally, last weekend, the third and final race of the championship concluded.
Throughout all of this, that spans 10 months starting from January, there was a lot more going on than just track experience and lap times. The racers were pulling out all the stops in order to have the best chance they could have at the podium. While I cannot say on behalf of other racers, for me though, the competitiveness soon changed into camaraderie. Throughout the weekends, we all would get into conversations about the race track, helping each other with our own learning and sharing feedback with each other about how the sessions went. Yes, all of us were going to race each other come Sunday, but everyone was more than happy to help each other out about how they felt with the motorcycle and how could they take that particular corner better. And having been ridden around each other, everyone would discuss how to do make that micro-adjustment to the body position or maybe how the braking markers could be different or how you could delay the apex on C10 at MMRT to have a faster exit speed. I could keep going on.
And the beauty of all this lied in the fact that all these helpful insights were exchanged with a healthy dose of friendly banter. On how a well-fed rider like me would blame its weight for every second lost and take away all the credit from a lighter rider because well, he is light (duh). On how we would say knee-downs are purely because of someone's height or how we would be kind enough to suggest each other to have a large serving of desserts the night before the race.
It was a collective learning process by making fun of each other, helping each other and wanting to beat the entire grid come race day. The result? The entire grid collectively became a lot faster. A quick glance at the times clocked at our very first session (the academy) at the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) and it is clear that everyone has improved by over 10 seconds. Per lap. That's not it, some riders have brought down their lap times by almost 30 seconds!
And even if you don't want to see the numbers, just seeing the pace that the racers were carrying, their body position, their lean angles and more importantly, just how comfortable everyone became while attacking those corners – that is what the biggest takeaway is.
As for me, the season might have passed without a podium despite having the pace to contend for it, it is still a win as I walk away being a faster, and more importantly, safer rider than before. And none of it would have been possible without the initiative being undertaken by TVS Motor Company in the first place. In a competitive and price-sensitive market like India, where automakers want to spend every penny on taking out fuel efficiency and marketing it to the millennial, TVS has been working under the radar to promote motorsports all over the country, so much so, that they have become the default recommendation for anyone who wants to start their racing careers.
And having had a first-hand experience of racing under TVS, I can say without a second thought, that if you want to experience a racing environment, get up close to the tension and feel the adrenaline of being on the grid, ready in your leathers, waiting for the lights to go out while you crouch in, stick close to the handlebar, ready to launch into the best 20 something minutes of your life, then TVS has to be the place to go.
You will be faster, you will learn by practice and in the process, make some friends too.
Now hold my tissue box while I go deal with withdrawal symptoms as there are no more races to look forward to this year. Also, next time when us journalists meet on the track be it for a launch or something, I'm sure we will not think of it as a race and try to ride together as if the season isn't over. I'm sure.
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