Saturday, November 4, 2017

Track Day with the 2018 Sherco TVS Dakar Team

I knew it the moment I gave the 450 RTR the extra bit of gas. It was going to get interesting fast. I was correct I came in hot and the bike flew. It must have jumped not even two feet off the ground but that was enough. First the front wheel touched and then came the rear but at a weird angle. I instinctively gassed it as the rear thumped down and the bike took off to veering sharply to the left. At the same time I lost my balance and grip on the accelerator. But like a rodeo clown with one hand in the air fumbling to find its correct spot I somehow managed to wrangle the bike back on the track before I rode the bike into the bushes. 

I slowed down, looked up and started to laugh. In front of me I could see Aravind KP flying through the air with his throttle pinned. Landing perfectly and power sliding around a turn to tackle the next obstacle making it look so easy. God dammit its far from it. 

TVS Motorcycles had invited a handful of us down to Bangalore to come down and meet their three man Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team (Aravind KP, Adrien Metge and Joan Pedrero) that was getting ready to ship out to Dakar. But they didn't want us to just come and meet the team and crew. They asked us to carry our riding kit and in their words "We have a track day planned with you and the team. They will ride around the track with you helping you improve your skill on the dirt. And yes you will be riding our 200 and 450 rally RTR'".  

So there we stood at the crack of dawn a motley crew of Journalists at the TVS facility outside Bangalore city. Of course the rain decided to shower down upon us just to make it more interesting. Luckily it was sporadic and it stopped by the time we go to the track. 

We geared up and the professionals gave us a briefing. What do you need to ride this kind of surface someone asked Joan Pedrero. "Big big balls" was his only answer as he jumped on the bike and shepherded the first group out for a few laps. 

"Group three you are up. Vir you are on the 450 have fun but be careful its a mad one" The 450 indeed is a fun bike but I must tell you the 200 was even crazier. Small but not lacking any power it gets you around the track much faster than you can deal with. The best bit of the 200s  they are a great bike to ride to hone some of those skills that you need in the dirt. After my first go around the track Aravind gave me some gyan on how to get faster around the turns. "As you come into a corner dab the front brake put your leg out high with your toes pointed up to the sky. Hold the tank with your legs and use the front and use your weight on the peg to take the turn. As you exist gas it."

Six laps later I was getting into the flow of it and just as I started getting cocky around one sweeping turn a bit too much throttle and smack I was eating dirt. Pedrero was right "You gotta have big bloody balls to be fast here".

I had a blast that morning, learnt hell of a alot, got to ride some great motorcycles and with some brilliant people. The only real problem that I have is it has left a hankering for more. A few hours was just not enough. Also since I didn't want to ride the Dakar bike before the race I find myself making devious plan and schemes of how to get back to Bangalore and onto that TVS track.

So if anyone from TVS is listening all I want is a 200. Dont get me wrong a 450 would be nice but lets not get greedy and oh yes some more time on that track. 

Just a weekend every month!!!

Virs Kit
Jacket - Icon DKR Raiden
Helmet - AGV AX-8 EVO

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