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Racemandu : Nepal’s First Open Championship

The last time I tried my hands in competitive racing was back in 2009 at Chennai and the results were less than promising (Read more about it in page no 54). Sure enough quite a lot of time has passed since then and frankly my need for adrenalin too has reduced by a significant margin. I am no more the hot shot young biker willing to give it all and now care much less about bruising my biker ego. So when Nepal Automobile Sports Association (NASA) organized Nepal’s first ever open make-shift track racing competition ‘Racemandu’ at the Satdobato Complex on 2nd of March, 2013, I was initially a bit apprehensive about participating as a competitor. Nevertheless, I was quite anxious to see for myself how I would presently fare in a competitive race.

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There were two categories (100-198cc Class and 199-250cc Class) set by the organizers and the applicable registration charge for each rider was set at Rs.2000/-. I enrolled myself into the latter category with my KTM 200 Duke and eagerly anticipated the race day. The main sponsor for the event was Honda CBR250R and it was indeed a very much appreciable gesture from Syakar Trading Company for having kept the participation open to motorcycles of all makes. There were a couple of other partner sponsors too like Red Bull, Divine Wines, Hitco Nepal, Studds Helmets and Savsol Lubricants. The event was a part of NASA’s ongoing 1st Mountain Sports Festival and jointly managed by the Adventure Riders Group. The best of the event was that it officially affiliated with FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme), which is the global governing/sanctioning body of motorcycle racing. Participants were briefed a day earlier in the open air of the Satdobato Complex and with a glimpse of the track, things looked exciting. I was though probably expecting too much with a professional orientation that covered everything from the track details to some racing techniques. Anyways, we were asked to report by 9am the next day in order to avoid disqualification.

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But come race day, things were beginning to look less than promising. Though all the participants were present by 9am, the organizers were just getting started. The track was getting its final touches, sponsor banners and boards were being set up and the organizers were just beginning to sort out the riders’ numbers and stickers. Shouldn’t all this have been completed on the orientation day itself? An event starting an hour late is understandable to be in compliance with the usual ‘Nepali Time’. But how do you justify something that does not begin even three hours past the set time? Finally after witnessing the organizers scrambling around to get things in place and some wanna-be posers crazily racing outside the complex area, the event began to fall in place after 12pm only. We were allotted our numbers and the competition began with the first round of practice for the 100- 198cc class participants, after National Sports Council Member Secretary Yubraj Lama and other officials waved the chequered flag to open the Racemandu event. Our turn in the 199-250cc class followed next and things sure looked crazy with bikers competing aggressively even in the practice laps.

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The event was turning out to be an exciting affair with the organizers having set up a proper team for managing the track. There were enough volunteers and medical team scattered around the race track to monitor and prevent any untoward incident from happening. Of course, crashes were inevitable and a couple of riders kept sliding around the track in some of the rounds. But thankfully, there were no serious injuries to any rider. I however could not make it past the first round itself, as I just could not push myself to give my all against the more competitive and aggressive younger riders. And comically enough, it was worth looking at the ashamed faces of some of those poser street racers who got their piece of mind with a bruised biker ego, after discovering the difficult side to racing on a track layout. Nevertheless, the competition gathered heat with the best and capable bikers proceeding to the final stages. A short refreshment break for the riders was in order in between the event and there was also an exciting stunt show put up by the riders from KTM Street Riders and Ryderz of Bhaktapur. The stunt show was well coordinated and provided a relief from the monotony of the racing event. There were also other entertaining performances like the B-Boying and supposedly Cheer Leader dances. Finally, the competition was set for the decisive round in both the category and things looked thrilling with the best racers having proceeded to the top. Ultimately, Nikhil Thakuri clinched the top title in the 100-199cc category on his Yamaha R15 with Swarna Khadka and Bipluv Shrestha too on the Yamaha R15 respectively close behind. The 199-250cc category final race was however more exciting as it seemed more competitive. Crowd favourite Bikram Thapa on his KTM 200 Duke was initially looking like the potential winner. But there was a sudden twist in the expected result when Samar Manandhar on the Honda CBR250R gained lead in the middle of the race after a competitive and aggressive overtake on a tight corner, leaving Bikram Thapa on the ground. Samar Manandhar then fittingly put an end to the Honda sponsored championship leading the race with his Honda CBR250R and Shane Moktan trailing close behind on his KTM 200 Duke followed by Sujit Tamrakar on the Honda CBR250R. The winners walked away with Rs.20000 each while the first and second runners up we awarded Rs.10000 and Rs.5000 respectively.

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All in all, it was a well executed event in spite of the initial technical glitches. Every supporter and organizer of this event deserves a huge round of applause for having pulled off such an exciting event, in spite of our country lacking in a proper race track. We hope that more initiatives likes these will further pave way for a prospective future in motorsports activities in Nepal. Events like these should definitely take place on a regular basis and be promoted through the media more professionally.

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