The art of racing from the heart: 2022 TVS Young Media Racer Program Round 3 – Times of India

This is it. The 6th edition of the TVS Young Media Racer Program (YMRP) comes to an end – something probably none of the 10 riders present at the third and final round of the season wanted to hear. Since we knew it was the penultimate race, all riders were determined to give their best out on the track, and more importantly, have as much fun as we could in the meantime.
For me, I was a bit skeptical at first considering I crashed the last time around the same circuit. However, I definitely didn’t wanna miss out on what could possibly be my last opportunity racing out on a track, hence, I decided to learn from my mistakes this time around and certainly be more careful than I was during the previous round.

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The final round of the TVS YMRP 6.0 was all the more special for TOI Auto given the fact I was not the only rider representing the publication. My new colleague Aakash Paul, who had recently joined our team, was also participating in the competition. The folks at TVS were kind enough to let us both race simultaneously, making us the only media house to have 2 racers present at the event.
2022 TVS Young Media Racer Program 6.0 Round 3 – Practice
As much as it was exciting getting into the suit and then hopping onto the bike, the images of the crash were still fresh in my head. I was nervous. However, one lap down in practice, I had started regaining the confidence. I was able to push myself harder, however, I obviously didn’t want to end up pushing too hard, resulting in another mishap.

In the end, I made my entry back into the pit at least a lap earlier than everybody else, knowing that it was enough, not getting too greedy. I ended my practice with a lap time of 2:32.349, over 4 seconds faster than the practice session of the last round! Aakash was right ahead of me on 7th, posting a time of 2:31.395 during practice. Even though I was nowhere close to the pace of the riders on the top of the timing sheet, it felt good to know how much I had improved and also figure out my shortcomings that I could work on ahead of the main race.
2022 TVS Young Media Racer Program 6.0 Round 3 – Qualifying
This being the last round of the TVS YMRP 6.0, all riders were out there giving their best, not knowing when an opportunity like this came around our way next. I managed to shave off another 2 seconds in Qualifying as compared to the Practice, setting a best lap time of 2:29.179, placing myself in 7th position on the grid.


Meanwhile Aakash’s qualifying session was cut short after his bike’s gear lever completely fell off on the first lap itself! While it was totally unprecedented, mechanical faults are a part of motorsports. It should also be noted that the race-spec Apache RTR 200s that we were riding were being used for the TVS One Make Championship (OMC) RTR 200 Girls category as well.
2022 TVS Young Media Racer Program 6.0 Round 3 – Race
A confusion regarding the grid setup resulted in the riders starting from the positions that we achieved during the practice session. That meant that Aakash and I were both starting on the third row – him on 7th, a spot ahead of me. Having missed out on the race start in the second round, I was already a bit nervous, and the grid spot confusion left me completely missing out when the lights went off – resulting in a poor launch that saw me move down to the last position!


What followed was five laps of pure adrenaline-filled racing, with each and everyone pushing to their limits. Despite a really bad launch, braking late on C1 helped me gain a position, but moving up any further seemed like a distant dream. However, with each passing corner, it started to look like the dream could indeed turn into reality as I kept moving closer to the rider in front, trying my best to make a move.
After a continuous battle, I managed to gain another position in Lap 2 after overtaking bike number 6 from the outside around C8. With the next rider nowhere in sight, it was just me trying to better my lap timings as well as improve my riding, and in the meantime also hold my current position. Moving to a comfortable position in the final laps helped me extract as much as I could from the splendid 200 cc machine I was riding.


Despite not being a contingent to the victory, I was more than satisfied with what I had achieved. I crossed the line on 7th with a total time of 12:34.487, meanwhile Aakash finished 9th, posting a time of 12:39.466. My fastest lap time was 2:27.320 – a drastic 5 second improvement since the practice session. I was also 9 seconds faster than the last time around I rode on the track, i.e. Round 2.
To sum it up, the experience of getting to not only ride, but actually race on a track is extraordinary. Nothing comes close. After 7 proper track days, I am proud to say that I am a much better rider today, and not just out on the track, but in real life conditions as well. One of the simplest ways to get better at something is doing it over and over again, which also stands true for riding.


While we all expected to come out as better riders at the end of the season, there was another aspect of the experience that I realised while summarising the season. During YMRP 6.0, I also experienced the pressure and emotions drivers and riders across various motorsports categories face during a race weekend. It is easy to sit on the couch and criticise a rider competing in let’s say MotoGP, but you have a completely different perspective when you yourself are standing at the grid, nervously waiting for the lights to go out.
One has to cope with the pressure of maintaining track position, sticking to their line and finding an opening to attack the rider ahead, all while going at break-neck speeds and hanging onto the bike for dear life! The high of finishing a race, the frustration of crashing out, the nervousness of clocking the best timing in qualifying and remembering the track lines and braking points are just some of the things that professional motorsports athletes go through regularly and at a much higher level. It gave me a newfound appreciation for not just the physical but also the mental skills of racers across the globe.


The TVS Young Media Racer Program has helped me learn some invaluable lessons that I will keep with myself forever. Despite the crash and the subsequent injury, if you ask would I do it all over again? Absolutely, with a big grin on my face.

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