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The Crazy Track Day Experience

This experience dates back to June of 2009. Morang Auto Works (MAW), the authorized distributor of Yamaha bikes in Nepal were sending four Nepalese participants to compete in the Yamaha R15 One Make Championship at the Madras Motor Sports Club Racing Circuit in Chennai. Professional Supersports Racer Mrs. Alisha Abdullah and her seven times national racing champion father Mr. Riyasat Ali Abdullah were flown in from India for selecting the four deserving candidates. The selection took place in the freshly laid road of an under construction housing colony and riders were chosen on the basis of their skilled judgement on various aspects like cornering techniques, riding strategy, etc. Luckily, I was one of the four riders who made it through the gruelling selection rounds. The championship was scheduled for the 28th of June and we left for Chennai on the 26th of June on an all expense paid trip from Yamaha, for our first ever racing track day opportunity.

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Being an avid motorcycling enthusiast, I had always wished to experience the thrill of racing on a race track. Off course, I was never your traditional street racer who would crazily zoom past every other vehicle on the road. But the prospect of an open stretch of tarmac built exclusively for competitive racing and with no public road hazards to boot had me raring to go. We arrived at Chennai on the midnight of 26th June. A practice run on the track was scheduled for the next day. But unfortunately, with the professional level practice run taking place on the 27th of June and rain pouring in later, our practice was cancelled. Anyways, seeing the professional racers zip past doing their high speed runs, had all of us energized and crazily excited to put our riding skills to test and see how each of us would fare with the throttle wide open.

Race day finally came by on the 28th of June. We reached the track early in the morning and luckily the Indian Yamaha officials decided to grant us a half an hour practice run before the event. We were allotted our respective Yamaha R15 bikes and after some briefing by the veteran Mr. Riyasat Abdullah, we were instructed to follow a professional Yamaha rider who would show us the appropriate racing line through the track. There I was, revving the bike on the pit lane with the rush of adrenaline gushing within for my first ever track day run. I pulled in the clutch lever, shifted to gear, disengaged the clutch and set off to burn some rubber in the unbelievably butter smooth and inspirational tarmac. For around two laps we followed the Yamaha rider around the track, getting familiar with both the bike and the track. It was really an exhilarating experience diving into the hairpin bends with hardly any fear of unexpected surprises like pot holes, slippery components, animals, etc, unlike in everyday road riding. I even tried scraping the virgin knee guards in the corners for the first-hand experience of a blissful knee-down, but every try in vain. Perhaps that called for some practice. The Yamaha rider then signalled us to overtake him and ride at our own pace.

After getting a proper feel of the track, I then decided to push myself to the extreme and test my potential. But less did I expect this very decision to be my biggest ever mistake. I overtook my friends and started speeding like there was no tomorrow. For two laps, I raced with all the skills and experiences I had garnered over all these years of my motorcycling. Believe me, I had never ridden any faster before and probably never will. I was beginning to imagine myself as some Moto GP racer and had my mind completely focused on racing. I got so much engrossed with the thrill of ripping through the track and making fast corner entries and exits, that I forgot it was a practice run. So until this tight right hander came…

I carried too much speed into the corner and immediately decelerated to avoid the gravel traps on the side lane. The next few seconds was the least I had expected. The bike did not take well to the rapid deceleration and I was literally thrown over the bike in a high slide at a speed of around 90kmph. That very moment of being airborne already had me predicting a worst case scenario for myself. I landed head first on the ground, tumbled three to four times and skid across the track before coming to a complete stop in the gravel trap. I was still alive! I immediately got up and shockingly had not broken anything on my body. The riding jacket was tattered and I could feel some major bruises on my abdomen and arms. But as I put the smashed bike up and got on it to ride it back to the pit, I felt a sudden muscular strain on the neck and chest. It was a painful experience and the race had not even begun. So after the emergency medical cares, I decided to still register myself for the championship and Yamaha India cooperatively offered another bike to take part in the competition.

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But now, the fear factor had caved in and I had blown away every bit of confidence that I had in me. After few hours of rest, the race event commenced. There was another practice run for three laps and I took it real slow this time, desperately trying to get over the crash trauma and increase my corner speeds. Soon enough my turn for the first round came by and I had to be it in the top eight to make it to the semi finals. As I lined up on the track waiting for the green signal, I wasn’t really expecting to do well. It was a four lap round and by the end of the first lap I was in the fourth position. I knew I wasn’t riding my bloody best, but was now confident of at least ending in the top eight. But just as I made a corner entry in the second lap, the least I had expected happened. I was suddenly sliding across the track. Yes again! This time though it was another rider who hit my rear wheel on the right hander and both us ended kissing the tarmac. Luckily, the other riders were trailing behind and we were saved from being run over. I quickly picked up my bike and continued to race. But the right foot peg had given up on the fall and the

front brakes had gone kaput. So the chances of making it back to the top eight looked very bleak. As a result, I was eliminated and had to accept that I couldn’t be competitive enough. A few more bruises had developed on my body and the muscular sprain on my neck only got worse from the back to back impact.

Well, I sure brought no trophy back home. But it was an experience of a lifetime and a huge learning incident for me as a rider. And in spite of my bitter experiences, I would still

to experience riding in a race track at least once in their lifetime. The fact is, though I nearly ended up losing my life, this ride still remains the most cherished adrenaline filled moment in my life. And would I want to go back and race on the track ever again? Definitely yes! Of course though now it will be more about a learning experience rather than competing. Once bitten, always twice shy…

 

MORE ABOUT THE MMSC RACING CIRCUIT

The Irungattukottai Race Track or MMSC Racing Circuit was officially inaugurated in 1990. The track is 11 meters wide and has 10 major curves, apart from a number of minor ones. The main track has three straights, with the longest one being 250 meters. The circuit conforms to the two international bodies – the Federation Internationale De Automobile and the Federation Internationale Du Motocyliste, who lay down the norms for racing and racing circuits. This circuit is the nearest and possibly the cheapest race track for any Nepalese racing enthusiasts to fulfil their desire of speeding through an international quality race track.

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TRACK STATS:

Full Track Length: 3.74 kms (12 curves/turns)

Short Club Track Length: 2.1 kms (7 curves/ turns)

Width: 11 metres (12 metres at start line)

Direction: Clockwise

First Race: 1990

Fully Resurfaced: 2007

Vehicles Allowed: Cars up to F3 and all bikes allowed.

CONTACT:

Madras Motor Sports Club

Chandhok Centre – Ground Floor

244, Anna Salai, (Behind old Anand Theatre)

Chennai – 600006

Tel: 0091-44-24990998 | 0911-44-28520023

Fax: 0091-44-24993984

Website: www.madrasmotorsports.in

ESSENTIAL TIPS:

Make sure that you ride with more of your common sense and focus on accumulating experience gradually.

Respect your personal skill level and your machine’s potential. Never try overdoing it.

Remember that there are vital stuffs like the perfect racing line, body positioning, cornering techniques, crash survival techniques, veteran mentoring, etc which a rider cannot really expect to build up in a day.

Do not fall into the misconception that street racing and track racing are the same sides to a coin. The rules of the game are totally different. A street racer might do very well on the straights, but when it comes to the corner it is likely he will mess it up or lose the pace.

Be a sensible rider and make the most of your track day experience.

HOW TO BOOK A TRACK DAY:

Contact MMSC for booking a slot in PAY & PRACTICE. For an approx. 4 hour session, non MMSC members are charged IRs.1000 for bikes and IRs.2000 for cars, as of August 1, 2012. A separate surcharge is though applicable on weekends.

Travel to Chennai by flight, train or road.

Hire an insured bike or car of your desired make from a local vendor.

Go RACE!

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