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German performers on an Indian highway

9th Sep 2014 10:55 pm

Nikhil Bhatia tells us about his experience of driving high-performance Audis on Indian highways during the Audi Tri-Circuit challenge.

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The Tri-Circuit Challenge, that had us drive from Chennai’s MMRT to Coimbatore’s Kari Motor Speedway and then on to Noida’s Buddh International Circuit, may have concluded last week but people’s curiosity about the event hasn’t died down. Of the many questions our team has fielded over the past few days, a lot have been about driving on our highways. “Is it safe?” “Didn’t the cars struggle?” “Weren’t the roads bad?”, we’ve heard them all.

Well, to be honest, driving a supercar on a highway is just as easy or hard to drive as your regular family hatchback. Don’t get me wrong, in a supercar, you do have to deal with far less ground clearance, more attention from onlookers and the looming fear of damaging something very, very expensive. But the fact is, you don’t drive any differently. You follow the same rules, stick to the same speed limits and brace for the same idiocy from fellow road users.

That’s what I experienced on our drive from Udaipur to Delhi. With lots of stops for photography, we were running way behind schedule. We crossed Jaipur only past 9pm and still had to make the drive to Delhi and then Greater Noida. Those familiar with NH8 will perhaps understand why it was probably the least memorable section of the drive. The ‘road’ is in a state of utter disrepair with potholes galore and a wavy surface ruining the seemingly nice sections on it. Unmarked diversions add their own drama to proceedings. For cars built for the autobahn, this was hell. Or so we thought.

Just about everywhere, the cars showed they were game for their Indian adventure. Sure, we needed to criss-cross over speed breakers (to maximise clearance), had to slow to a crawl on really bad stretches and keep an eye out for impending danger, but at no point did we think the cars were a liability. We were just as fast (or slow) as the rest of the traffic making its way towards Delhi. Terrible as the roads and conditions were, we still managed to reach Delhi sooner than we had estimated.

While that fact was lost on us in the wee hours of that drizzly morning, looking back, it really says something about how hardy the Audi TT, S6 and RS7 are. It was a feat, all of us were and are quite amazed with. Think about it, driving across the length and breadth of India in three performance-biased sportscars is not something you do or hear about every day. Here’s hoping our successful drive experience opens the floodgates and gets more supercar owners out of their home cities and, well, headed to three of India’s great race tracks!

NIKHIL BHATIA

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