Published On Apr 15, 2022 08:00:00 AM
The gruelling 2021 TVS Young Media Racer Programme comes to an end as Soham Thakur secures the championship title.
My journey on this TVS Young Media Racer Programme has been an intense one. From jumping right into the deep end, having never ridden on track before to winning on my first ever outing, it has been a steep learning curve to say the least.
The last round of our championship took place in line with the last round of the 2021 Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship last month, at the same venue as before – the Madras Motor Race Track. I arrived into the race weekend having won both previous races and I had a 17-point lead in the championship. Still, I was feeling very anxious as we arrived, and, to top that off, two members of the Autocar bike team were previous Young Media Racer champions. So, I was really feeling the pressure before I even hopped on to the bike!
One last time
“Do not crash, just finish the race and you’ll win the championship!” is what I was saying to myself over and over again ahead of the start. I was even prepared to take it a bit easier just to ensure that happens. But you can never take it easy on the racetrack can you, and once the five red lights were out, I forgot all about my plan!
Getting a knee down had become a regular occurence by this point.
I managed to get a great start from pole position, one aspect which I had some struggles with in the earlier round, and was able to push on from there. By the last lap I’d built a sizeable lead and could comfortably cruise home. However, seeing as this would be my last ever lap in this championship, I decided to go flat out and set my fastest time ever. That lasted for only about three corners though, when I felt the front-end losing grip on corner entry, and in a bid to correct it, I ended up going really wide, almost on to the grass. A lesson was learnt then, and I cruised back to the finish line to take the chequered flag for the last time.
I was elated to say the least, and the congratulatory messages from my family, friends and colleagues only made me feel better. I had managed to be on pole for all the races, I won all races, led every lap and had the fastest lap at each of the rounds, an almost fairytale-like championship for me. However, there was just one thing I was disappointed about, perhaps in the entirety of the championship.
Having consistently improved my lap times throughout, I failed to do that at the last round. And peculiarly, it wasn’t just me, the rest of the field too failed to improve their times. This could, perhaps, be down to small details like the weather or even the condition of the tyre, but it still left me with a slight feeling of dissatisfaction.
The improvement in my body positioning from the qualifier round (left) to the final race (right) is quite apparent.
Gratitude is a must
Nevertheless, the entire season has been nothing short of superb. Having done mostly car related stuff at Autocar and then coming up against peers who have much more experience than me on two wheels, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be able to even win a race, let alone the championship.
Sure, I was the lightest in the competition, which did give me an advantage on the small-capacity Apache RTR 200, but the training and experience I gained from this programme had a big role to play as well. I mean, just compare my positioning on the bike from the first qualification round to the last, the difference is almost night and day. And this is just one aspect where I felt I made noticeable gains throughout the season.
The whole experience was surreal, it still hasn’t quite sunk in.
Of course, a huge thanks has to go to the entire TVS Racing team who gave us journalists an opportunity of a lifetime – to compete on race-prepped bikes, with a full racing team on a proper racetrack. Perhaps the only thing that wasn’t up to racing standards was us, the riders!
Over and above everything else, I’m afraid the track riding bug has bit me, quite hard. I will now be on the lookout for any opportunity to ride on the track, and maybe I’ll even get a crack at the TVS One Make open category next season. Hope you’re listening, TVS!
Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.