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How racing teams and athletes are dealing with the lockdown

29th Mar 2020 12:18 pm

What are racing teams and athletes up to during this forced break from motorsport? We speak to Jerome d’Ambrosio, Jehan Daruvala, CS Santosh and a few others to find out.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have hit pause on the global motorsport calendar. And while racing fans are in for a long wait before they can see their favourite machines battle it out on the track, behind the scenes, the wheels are still spinning. 

We speak with some of the most prominent names in Indian and international motorsport to find out how they’re dealing with the COVID-19 lockdown, and working on their fitness and motivation to remain in fighting form during this break from racing.

CS Santosh – Off-road and enduro motorcycle racer (Hero MotoSports)

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Those who follow CS Santosh on Instagram will know that he is spending a good time of this lockdown working on his fitness. Luckily, he happens to own his very own dirt park near Bengaluru, which means he can yet continue training both on and off the bike. “Fortunately for me, I have the opportunity to live in BigRock Dirtpark and I’m still able to do all the things that my professional life requires - riding and off-the-bike training,” CS Santosh said.

The rally racer added that he is running into some difficulties with food, but overall he still feels like he’s doing a fairly good job: “The food is a bit harder as I have to drive into the nearest town to buy supplies but, considering the situation, I’m happy to be doing a fairly good job.”

Jehan Daruvala – Formula 2 driver (Carlin)

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Indian F1 hopeful Jehan Daruvala has been gearing up for the most important racing season of his life. After all, the 21-year-old is now a step closer to living his Formula 1 dream, having moved up to Formula 2 with Carlin and securing a coveted seat at Red Bull’s young driver programme (yes, the same programme that has churned out the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly, Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon).

The postponement of the Formula 2 season means he’s currently back home in Mumbai self-isolating with his family. After sustaining a training injury over the winter, Daruvala’s had to put in some hard work over the past few months to return to full fitness. Maintaining that form remains of utmost importance with Daruvala explaining: “For fitness we have to keep on top of that, I have another flat in another building a minute away from my house, which has a private gym, so I use that place to maintain my gym routine.”

Dilbagh Gill – Mahindra Racing CEO and Team Principal

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Formula E reacted fairly early on to the situation, announcing that the current 2019/20 season would be temporarily suspended for a 2-month period. Gill explains the situation using a traffic light analogy: “This is a fast-moving situation that requires flexibility and monitoring, and Formula E currently has a ‘traffic light’ system in place; they have suspended racing for March and April, we have an amber light for a possibility of racing in May, and we are currently green to go for June and July.”

Mahindra Racing currently has its workforce working from home to follow social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, but Gill has also stressed that the team is laser-focused on extracting performance gains for once racing resumes. “From a sporting point of view our clear objective is that, once we are racing again, we want to complete the season with the best possible results for Mahindra Racing. Our team, through these most unprecedented and challenging of times, is fantastic. We’re all in uncharted waters together, and everyone is pulling together and being extremely positive and flexible in their ways of working. Our objectives in terms of performance are constant in these uncertain times and the whole workforce has a laser-sharp focus on achieving these once we can go racing again. The work we are doing is all geared towards accomplishing those goals,” he said.

Jerome d’Ambrosio – Formula E driver (Mahindra Racing)

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Further expanding on what Gill said, d’Ambrosio explains that he’s spending a good chunk of this break working with the team’s engineers to address issues seen on the M6Electro in the first half of the season. “Although we are not racing, there’s a lot of work going on in the background with the engineers. So I’m in regular contact with them as we work on data analysis to develop the programme and address any issues we had in the first half of the season. This means we are addressing everything to get a good handle on the second part of the championship so that we can show the true performance we can extract from the car. This situation isn’t only affecting motorsport, it’s affecting everybody, but it doesn’t mean we are not working. We are working hard and that means our motivation is still as high as ever,” he said.

And for those wondering how racers are keeping up with their gruelling trailing regime while on lockdown, d’Ambrosio sheds some light, saying: “I’m close to the sea, so I’ve been swimming a lot and doing a lot of indoor training. We cannot go to an external gym, so I’ve been doing some running and home workouts. At the moment I am not using the simulator as I have been practising social distancing for a few weeks now, so it’s been more about focusing on my fitness levels, and working with the engineers.

Mira Erda – Car racer

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Mira Erda just recently wrapped up a strong season in the 2019 JK Tyre National Racing Champion, even taking home the title in the women’s category of the LGB Formula 4 class. With the country-wide lockdown in place, the Red Bull-backed racer has listed out three priorities – healthy home-cooked food, training at home, and, of course, sanitizer!

“I’m making sure I carry my sanitizer everywhere I have to go,” she said. “Also eating healthy home-cooked food is my priority right now. I’m fully prepared to face the virus. I have already asked my trainer for a full workout plan which I can do when I’m at home and it covers everything important.”

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