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Kavin and Mohsin: The gritty and passionate Honda India Racing riders

A country where cricketers can earn the status of immortals, an athlete pursuing a career in a sport that flirts with danger all the time won't earn any recognition, let alone rewards for showing incredible skills.
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 11:06 IST
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 11:06 IST

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Motegi, Japan: Kavin Samaar Quintal's bike engine seized, he crashed, and everything went black around him during Honda India Talent Cup back in 2020.

Such was the ferocity and impact of the crash that at least 13 screws had to be placed inside his body, including nine in his collar bone, for the treatment of his injuries. But that did not deter him from pursuing his passion—bike racing.

During the Thailand Talent Cup in 2022, the Chennai racer again met with a crash when the rider ahead applied sudden brakes and rammed into him. His race suit tore up, leaving him with laceration and burn injury in his right arm.

That also did not discourage the then 16-year-old Kavin.

His parents were not worried or scared either. After all he was just following the family tradition, where enduring crashes on the race circuit was the norm. Kavin's grandfather and maternal uncles knew exactly what it meant to leave a race circuit with broken bones.

In contrast, Mohsin Paramban's family got to know about the dangerous passion of their kid when one fine day he landed home with a broken leg, plastered heavily, in 2020.

That was during the Honda Talent Cup in Chennai, where he had finished inside the top-7 in 2019 without any professional training and even without any experience riding a racing bike. That performance earned him the chance to train with and compete for Honda India Racing.

A country where cricketers can earn the status of immortals, an athlete pursuing a career in a sport that flirts with danger all the time won't earn any recognition, let alone rewards for showing incredible skills.

'It's a bit sad. Everybody likes speed and talk about it, but this sport has no recognition in India. I would love to contribute to growing the popularity of this sport," said 18-year-old Kavin, who mostly trains in Spain and has competed for several teams in Europe.

Kavin rides in AP250 class in Asia Road Racing Championship (AARC) but reckons that he is ready to jump to the 600cc class.

"My body and my racing style suit 600cc class more. I would love to graduate to that level soon. I had a win in 600cc in Europe. I am a lot smoother when I ride a 600cc bike, I conserve the tyre more, I am confident; and can be very aggressive if required," he said with spark in his eyes.

He hit a top speed of 263kmph recently. While Kavin is lucky to have a family that backs him and he can afford to train in Europe, Mohsin does not have that luxury.

The racer from Mallapuram only trains when he is with Honda team for ARRC, otherwise, he just works on his body. His father works in a mechanical shop in Dubai. Understandably, he has no financial backing.

Luckily, his team Honda India Racing, supports him in following his passion.

The team has invested millions of dollars to the keep the racing tradition going, though a podium finish has eluded them in ARRC. Kavun's 11th place finish has been the best show for Honda India Racing in season 2024.

His eighth-place finish in season 2023 has been Kavin's best show in AP250 class so far.

Mohsin has managed only two points this season and has gone without points in four consecutive races.

"We don't charge these riders anything for having this racing seat. They have earned it, and we support them. Honda Motorcyle and Scooter India (HMSI) has DNA which Honda has. It is said that if Honda does not race, then there is no Honda," said a HMSI official, explaining the team philosophy.

"We have a plan in place. Everybody asks us when we are going to have that podium finish (in ARRC) but podium are not everything in racing. We tasted podiums in 2014, 2016 and 2022 in other events. We have teams now in three events: -- Asia Talent Cup, Tahi Talent Cup and AARC."

The official explained that for Indian riders to do well, a lot needs to change in the country.

In India, the racing age starts at 15, while in other Asian nations it is as low as 7-8. By the time an Indian racer starts to learn the ropes, the other Asian racer of the same age has 5-7 year of experience under their belt.

"This makes all the difference. FMSCI makes the regulations and probably they can have a re-look at that. There have been discussions around that in the past and the racing age was lowered to 11 but it was again brought back to 15," said the official.

'We have a plan. We search, nurture the talent and then help the racer grow professionally. Podium is not the ultimate goal, it's a journey. The podium will come automatically when the plan works.' Kavin explains how the racing culture is at a different level in Europe.

'They train 12 days in two weeks. The intensity is at a completely different level, while in India we train only three times a week because there are not enough racing tracks in India,' said Kavin.

Interest in motorsport is largely restricted to Southern part of the country and losing the F1 race, which was held in NCR for three years, did not help the cause.

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Published 10 June 2024, 11:06 IST

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