CHENNAI: We race at an average speed of 110 km/hr. Speed is addictive, and it’s more about you versus yourself than you versus other riders. I had once lost a race by one-thousandth of a second, and therefore everything you do on the track matters,” said Soorya PM, an expert rider with Team Speed Up Racing in the 301 - 400cc category.
The tall and thin 23-year-old racer sits up a little straighter as he talks about racing and his passion for the sport. He began racing two years ago, upon his friend’s suggestion and fell in love with the track immediately. Soorya became a senior racer in his team in less than a year, but this achievement did not come by talent alone. An average racer spends most of his time training off the track than in it.
Soorya explains that physical fitness and mental fitness in tandem is essential for a racer to thrive. Constant evaluation of their own racing and performance helps them reach a level of self-awareness where they can understand their flaws and overcome it. “We learn a lot by looking at others’ mistakes and noticing their techniques. At the track, we are all friends, and we help each other grow,” he said.
With racers losing over two kilos of weight in fluid every race, it is essential that racers keep their body and mind fit. But according to Abhay Prashan, an expert racer in the 250 cc category, racing is 50 per cent about the racer and 50 per cent about the bike, and the quality of equipment used by Indian racers are abysmally poor. “There is a drastic difference in equipment used by Indian and foreign players.
I was up against a person with an Underbone 150 cc and I had a KTM 390 cc. He finished the race in one minute and fifty-one seconds, and I finished the race in one minute and fifty-four seconds. In a sport where you can lose by one-thousandth of a second, my mind wasn’t able to process even a four-second gap,” he said. Each racer has a team consisting of tuners, mechanics and a team manager, with tuners and mechanics helping the maintenance of bikes and the team managers compiling a data catalogue for the racers to study during their pits stops which last for seconds. According to Satish Kumar, team manager of Team Speed Up Racing, foreign players have dedicated tuners and mechanics once they enter the professional sphere and have adequate funding to make racing their career.
“The factory teams have backing from Honda, Ford, and other companies who provide facilities and the money to give their racers the best training and bikes. However, it is harder for private teams, as we have no government backing in the form of funding. Racing was only recognised as a sport two years ago,” Satish shared. These worrying issues do not deter Soorya and Abhay in pursuing their love for the sport. With their parents’ support and their formidable skill, the racers train once every two weeks in the racing track at Sriperambadur, which remains shut otherwise, and have participated in many nation-wide races.
A crash is one of the most devastating experiences that can happen to a racer, as it sets them back a few months to recover. By focusing on how to improve, slowly gaining back their confidence, and the support of their fellow racers, Soorya PM explains that those with stronger minds are able to return in form.
Soorya PM is an expert rider with Team Speed Up
Racing in the 301-400cc category