We were not…
And for good reason. You see, while the first lap ended well for me, that tag game that Karan Singh and I had going on at Kari Motor Speedway was left on a cliffhanger. Until the wire, on the last lap, Karan and I wanted the top step and an obsession took over us. But as in The Matrix, the obsession with winning comes at a cost – “red pill” (patience) or “blue pill” (kamikaze). And for me, patience paid off.
And luckily for Karan, learning from his mistakes came quickly, so he wasn’t going to make it easy for me this time around. Round two ushered in another race weekend, which meant I was back at the Madras Motor Sport Track near Chennai after almost a decade. Thanks to two epic failures at this track, I was sidetracked from racing all those years ago. But I was a younger guy, and patience wasn’t my best quality in my twenties, unlike those guys.
Take a look at the training, because it was not a benchmark for how the weekend was going to go. The bikes were the same: TVS Petronas Apache RTR 200 4V. It’s unreal the potential this street bike has locked away. A few light mods and it’s a blast to ride on a trail. And those skinny TVS Eurogrip ‘W’ tyres, they’ll help you cling to the road with your fingertips if you’re brave enough. And that’s the magic word right there, ‘trust’ – my next life lesson.
Who wins nearly eight seconds on their practice time in qualifying? During qualifying we were all finding 4 or 5 seconds of speed as we got to know the track and the bikes. Karan rode into the pits confident that he had pole, and he did. He went from 2:28:726 in practice to 2:21:270 in qualifying, securing pole position. Right behind him was Daniel Rajkumar, followed by me, then Mandar Sawant, the little space rocket.
Sunday (race day) it was clear, I just didn’t have the pace this weekend to lead the charge. I needed more time on this fast, technical track to start scratching the surface of my potential here, so the goal was simple – be patient, be consistent and hunt down these guys.
Five laps around a 3.717 km circuit; Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not. As you run at full speed, time slows down inside the helmet. Your mind and mentality need to be 100% in the moment, and that commitment is a tough act to follow. It created this huge sense of respect for runners and athletes in general. But the red lights on the start line were about to disappear and Mandar was about to pass us like a shuttle breaking through the exosphere from P4!
It’s very hard for me to say how beautiful those five laps were to my eyes from inside that helmet. After chasing Mandar who led brilliantly, I observed Karan’s power of obsession and willpower who bravely put it into play every time no matter how many times I followed him . Corner after corner there was an attempt to usurp the throne. Contact was made, close calls were common, but he came across as the fastest guy across the line that day.
On Sunday, Karan and I achieved redemption in one form or another. It wrapped up our Kari dogfight in spectacular fashion and I finally got the answer to what a sportsman is. My dad had a big bag of trophies from his days as a track and field athlete. Not all of them were golden or the biggest, but there was sure to be one. Because what matters is giving it your all every time. Trust and go!
And remember, even on days when you face absolute and certain defeat, it’s important to come out knocking. Because, as Eminem once said, “a platinum status plaque sucks if I’m not the baddest.”