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BLOG: TVS Young Media Racer 6.0 Program – Unlearn, Learn and Perform

Earlier this year I made a commitment to myself and family come what may, a track day or two is on the cards for me in 2022. Well, that’s all it was, a commitment without direction or actions. On April 22, my colleague Pratheek Kunder tells me that I will be part of the TVS Young Media Racer 2022 (YMRP) program. And just like that, I’m ready for at least one track day, and three more if I pass qualifying. It’s a jackpot, a full season for a rookie like me.

So from April 15 (when I was notified of YMRP 6.0) to May 5, I had 20 days to get my goals in order – to be as fit as possible and buy a new helmet. The latter was done with ease, while the former was, well, tempted.

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Front View

Fast forward to Thursday, May 5, about 14 of us automotive journalists and two automotive content creators set foot on the famous Madras Motor Racing Circuit (MMRT) and laid eyes on our rides for the program, the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V. Eager to swing a leg over the allocated bikes, we all set off and picked up the riding gear that TVS had arranged for us.

There were 16 bikes warming up for the first session. The atmosphere was lively enough, thanks to the meaty growl of the intoxicating exhaust and the smell of unburned fuel in the air. The agenda for the program was quite simple: attend classroom sessions, understand everything that TVS-turned-coach Harry Sylvester taught in theory, and perform it on the 3.74km track.

So, let’s review all the sessions in brief.

Session 1

The 16 were divided into two batches of eight and put in a classroom. The first session began with theory lessons on basic track etiquette, be it flags, rules, practice without braking, racing lines and more. But, of those, the one thing Harry took us through, again and again, was the racing lines. “Out-In-Out” is the line format the runner is expected to follow. Basically, you enter the outermost racing line while approaching the turn, hit the appropriate apex mark, and exit the turn sliding toward the outside line. As simple as that.

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Front View

To put all of this into practice, we hopped on our designated motorcycles. We were instructed to constantly ride the bike in fourth gear and refrain from using the brakes. So all we had to do was modulate the throttle as needed and pass the lap. Luckily the good folks at the TVS team had placed red and white markers so the learners would remember where to use the brakes and where to put the gas.

Session 2

After the no-braking exercise and much-needed hydration, we were back at our places in the classroom. This time Harry taught us body position and vision. Let’s discuss the latter first. A racetrack is a much safer place than the road. You can set clear goals and determine lines to follow even if you miss a turn or two. Harry said, “Where you look is where you go”. And that’s what we’ve done. However, you can’t rest your vision in one place, so you keep looking ahead and as far as you can while getting closer to your marked areas. It helps to stay on the necessary lines/trajectories.

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Front View

For body position, there’s more than meets the eye. The thrill of having your knee-slider scrape across smooth tarmac is out of this world. But, most of us were still learning and had novice skills. So the base is where we needed to focus – slide (don’t lift your butt, slide it!) to one side of the seat while approaching a corner with elbow and knee (in the direction of the corner) while grabbing the tank partially with the opposite thigh.

Session 3

It was the last theoretical and theoretical session before our free training session. Here we were taught to throw the bike while racing without starting or rolling. It’s a four-step process. Hold the front brake lever, pull the clutch to the point of engagement and accelerate to 4000 rpm. After that, you release the clutch gradually and accelerate as if your life depended on it. Still, a few wheeled up or stalled the bike. Luckily, my unique drag racing background came in handy, and I managed a decent launch.

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Front View

After the launch practice, it was the braking marker part. We go full on the straight and pretty much drop anchor at a set marker followed by bluff downshifts. On the first of two passes, I misjudged the marker and braked early. However, I rectified it in the second run.

Free practice and qualifying

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Left Side View

After the practice sessions, we finally got to the long-awaited free practice on MMRT. We were the ones reviewing everything we had captured throughout the day and implementing it on the track. From no braking to racing lines, body positioning and everything in between, the riders were going through their memories.

The practice race and billions of liters of water later, everyone was released onto the track for qualifying. For some the qualifying session meant going crazy while others took their time to catch the pace and then pick up the pace. Well, for me it was a mix-bag, to say the least. With the first two laps flowing, I tried to pick up some pace and went for sharper lines. In no time, I found myself wide in some corners or out of gear in others.

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Front View

Once qualifying was over, it was the moment everyone was waiting for: the timing and the results. Of a total of 16, only 12 qualified, which would allow them to race three more times. And guess what? We made it to the list and are now ready for the whole racing season!

Then we will race the first race at Kari Motor Speedway in the first or second week of June. Hope all goes well and the rain gods show mercy!