A journey from Chennai to Catalunya

A journey from Chennai to Catalunya

After a short but successful stint in India, Sarath is going international

in right place at right time After just four years in the sport, Chennai’s 19-year-old Sarath Kumar has managed to find himself racing in the Moto GP 125 cc class.

That may suggest a trend overwhelmingly partisan for four wheelers, and indeed India have been pushed onto the international four-wheel motor sport scheme via Formula One and the nation’s representatives in the event. All the while, a frail 19-year-old made a rather quiet mark earlier this year.

He got a chance to sit on an Aprilia. Now, this isn’t a misprint! The Chennai lad got a feel of the Italian, curvacious, monster-powered bike that most people rarely get to drool over, even in a magazine.

Welcome Sarath Kumar!

Not only did he got to sit on the bike, he also got a chance to race them in the Moto GP 125 cc class for WTR-Ten10 Racing and did a good job considering his relatively young history with bikes.

It all started in the summer of 2008 when Sarath and a friend went to watch a race at the iconic Sriperumbudur track. It’s really hard to tell if its the lure of a track that has given birth to legions of riders and drivers over the past century or just the sound of bikes that drew Sarath in but within hours he was a part of the crowd that revved their bikes recklessly and fought to get to the chequered flag first.

“In 2007, there was a race at Sriperumbudur and I told a friend of mine that I wanted to take part in it. He asked me go ahead and so I did. I always enjoyed racing but that was the first time I took it up seriously,” Sarath said.

What followed is a little fairy tale like. The event he took part in was a TVS initiative and he was signed up by them for their debut racing season, and out of the blue he won them a title in the upto 130cc 4-stroke novice class.

Following a successful year, Bangalore-based Ten10 Racing, headed by motor sport enthusiast Ramji Govindarajan, signed Sarath up in 2009 and he repaid them in kind with a good show in the FIM UAM Indian round of the Asia GP championship.

In 2010, Sarath got a chance to attend the four-day California Superbike School conducted by the legendary Keith Code at the Madras Motor Sports Club track in Chennai, and perhaps this was where the seeds of a possible career in Moto GP were sown.

In search of a sponsorer, WTR  San Marino Racing Team threaded Indian territory and much to their surprise Ten10 were willing to take up the task and as an off-shoot Sarath got a chance to let the little Indian flag on his helmet feel the wind run through it at over 200 kmph.

“It is very different to race in the Moto GP. The bike, the tyres, the handling, everything is so different, everything is so good,” said Sarath over the phone from Chennai.

“There is basically nothing similar with Indian production bikes and the bikes in the Moto. These bikes are fully modified and are so much more powerful. Besides having to get used to a bike I’ve never ridden before, the competition is also very high. I have to fight it out. See, they have the advantage of racing these bikes in the local level. That helps them get very comfortable with the bike. My biggest task now will be to adapt to the bike and the rest of the field.”

Sarath failed to qualify in the first to races of the season in Qatar and Spain but he failed to be bogged down by the initial results. “I had some trouble in the first couple of races but I’m sure with time I can get better. I just need a couple of more races to get used to the bike and after that I should climb up the grid.

“From the next season on it’s going to be the Moto3 which means four stroke bikes and I’m sure I can do better on them. Let’s see where all this ends up. As of now, I’m just proud that as an Indian I am on the biggest stage for motorcycles and hopefully many more from my country will join me here.”

We all hope so too but then again not too many with as limited a past in motor sports as Sarath can get as lucky. Ofcourse, he has the talent, the composure, the physique, a racing brain and a strong sense of patriotism which will come in handy through his racing career but all this without a dash of luck when it mattered...?