I just got back from Chennai and the first thing that I decided to do is to share my experience of that thrilling Saturday that I’ve had at Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT), Chennai. Well to start off with, Why did I go there? The answer is simple: I wanted to learn how to ride on a race track and get a feel of an actual race bike. Now you will be like, isn’t it the same as riding on a road? That’s where you’re wrong! It is totally different. Never mix track riding with road riding, it is a totally different experience altogether.
Next up, who gave me the training and the race bike? Answer: Honda Ten10 Racing Academy (HTRA). I enrolled myself (and few of my friends too) for the Level 1: Beginners Training session, packed a decent helmet with a D-ring and a pair of full gauntlet gloves. Once we got there, we had to go to school! not just any other school, but a race school. I was never so excited about going to school before this. What about our teachers? We were trained by Ramji Govindrajan, Sarath Kumar and Rajiv Sethu primarily. Ramji Govindrajan is the founder and team principal of Honda Ten10 Racing , he has been mentoring and training upcoming riders for the past decade. Sarath Kumar is the national champion in the 125cc class. He is currently riding in the Asia Road Racing Championship. Rajiv Sethu recently led a 1-2 win for Honda Ten10 team in the premier Super Sport Indian (up to 165cc) class. These guys are super talented, you should watch them ride on the race track.
The one day session consists of various theory and practical sessions, wherein we were taught the basics of track riding. This included the certified helmets, gloves, racing leathers (suit), boots and other safety equipment that we need to buy. This is important because good quality riding gear will keep you safe in an event of a crash. Next, we were made familiar with all the flags that we need to keep note of while riding because flags are the only way to convey a message to a rider, who has no clue about what has happened ahead of him/her on the race track.
We were briefed about the the braking markers that we need to set in our minds at every corner of the racetrack and by the way, MMRT has ten corners. We had to remember them, memorize their location, till it becomes muscle memory. Well, for a one day session it was a bit difficult, but I’m sure I’ll get better as I visit the race track more often. Next up, we had to keep note of our corner approach, the entry point, apex and the corner exit. Yes, sounds complicated and it is. I took me quite some time to get it right and honestly speaking, I am still terrible! There a lot of scope for improvement.
In the pits, Sarath and Rajiv demonstrated the riding positions before we got out on the track. They gave us tips on how to sit on the bike comfortably, so that we can flow easily into the corner. Sitting awkwardly is going to cause a lot of discomfort as you progress through the session, so better to get it right first. It’s quite easy, just need to adjust to the higher foot rests (rear-sets). It was now time to do some laps, so we put on our racing leathers which was one heck of a challenge, its really tight, like really crotch suffocating tight! Right after that, we were allotted bikes, oh boy! that was something special. Getting your own race bike for the day, I felt the special connection with it. Really needed time to understand this beauty, and I had to trust her completely, even though I just met her.
As the day progressed, we had more theory and practical sessions. Those sessions included throttle control, effective braking, racing lines, body positioning and crash management. Throttle control was something really interesting because prior to the session, I tried to correct my racing line mid-corner, which was a stupid thing to do. I upset the suspension and almost lost the front end. After that, Ramji promptly told us that we need to commit to the corner with same throttle input, and throttle out completely while exiting the corner. Such insights, really helped me when I went on the track after that.
Maintaining and following a racing line is really challenging, we beginners really need a lot more time on the track to master this. I was particularly making a lot mistakes while riding, Sarath came to me after my time on the track and told me that I was going wrong. He pointed out that my body position was correct but I really needed to practice the out-in-out corner pattern better. There’s so much more scope to learn and improve.
I still can’t get enough of that track session, I want to get back on that number 15 Honda CBR150 and ride a few more laps. I realized that I could push the boundaries of my mind, what I thought was scary at first, was much more comforting at the end of the day. What I loved about this session is the feedback that I got from the experts, they tell you how you can do better and how you can go faster. Such personalized feedback really helps, if you are doing something wrong, they will tell you that immediately and correct you. I definitely need more track time, I’m already planning my next one.
Finally, it’s time to share the details about how to enroll yourself in this academy. Go to training.ten10racing.com (UPDATE: the website is up and running now, do check it out). They list out all the upcoming sessions over there. Just select a suitable date, and buy a slot into the training session. This will cost you something around ₹10,000/- (excl. taxes), it includes the fees for the training session, the race bike, fuel for the race bike, track rent, safety gear and lunch.
You will need to have a proper helmet with a double D-ring fastener. Your regular quick release helmets will not be allowed. Also, your helmet needs to be ECE/SNELL certifed, DO NOT bring ISI and DOT helmets, they will be instantly rejected. You will also need a pair of full gauntlet gloves, made of leather, regular textile gloves will not be accepted.
As the session was going on, I was updating my social media feed in my free time and my inbox kept buzzing with questions about how to get here. I really loved such interest about track riding, so I decided to share this to all of you. If you need more details, just drop a comment here and I will answer it.
STOP RACING on public roads, you’re not proving anyone, anything. You want to race? come to MMRT and enroll yourself in the Honda Ten10 Racing Academy, but please, BE SERIOUS about this session.
Cheers! ride safe and wear your safety gear.