Venomotorsportz, a new venture co-founded by Rustom Kersi Patel and Zubair Agloria, along with Indian Automotive Racing Club (IARC) hosted the Gulf Monsoon Endurance 2023 as its inaugural event on the outskirts of Mumbai on Sunday, August 28. The motocross endurance event saw riders participate in three categories — individually on motorcycles and scooters, and a team challenge on motorcycles with each team comprising three riders — in gruelling track conditions. A heavy spell of rain before the start of the races not only set the tone for the day, but also made it hugely challenging for the riders.
Patel, who is also an eight-time national motocross champion, felt that motorsports in and around Mumbai had become stagnant, and that was the primary seed behind the event. “We wanted to wake Mumbai up, and if we were to do that, we thought let’s do it with one of the toughest events in the country. We, as team Venom, are organising this official FMSCI event, and today we are really proud to have pulled this off,” said Patel.
Enduring the slush pit
The race format was simple — the individual motorcycle and scooter categories had 30-minute slots with the rider completing the maximum laps in the stipulated time winning the race. The team challenge, meanwhile, had a 40-minute slot with unlimited rider swaps.
The event kicked-off with the motorcycle category, and while all riders started off in high spirits, it was evident in just 1 or 2 laps how treacherous the track was, thanks to the rain. The motorcycles were modified Hero Impulses and Xpulses, and despite running knobby tires, some were digging deep into the mud. Still, the riders kept pushing, often beyond their limits, to complete as many laps as was possible.
The scooter category had it a lot tougher than the motorcycles, but what was of great support to riders in all categories, were the relentless efforts of the marshals, and sometimes even bystanders, stepping up to get riders unstuck. The team challenge was perhaps the most intense, as it required strategic swapping of riders while also having to negotiate the track conditions to swap riders at a given point on the track.
What was particularly nice was the diversity of the participants that included rookies like Nitish Chaudhari, who was in his first year of motorcycle racing after having raced in the national Formula 4 category, as well as 25-year-old Hemangi, who was one of the youngest participants and one of just three female riders at the event. There were also much more experienced riders, including 63-year-old Vijay C Samel, the senior-most rider at the event.
K. Kannan Naidu, winner in the team challenge and one of more experienced riders at the event said, “This was one of the most difficult races I have ever done, especially given the conditions. After each lap, I was questioning whether to do it, or just give up. But in the end, I was determined that I want to finish.”
Despite the challenges, the riders thoroughly enjoyed themselves, apart from also gaining valuable experience, and that was especially true for the rookies. “It was a super experience. It was tiring and very demanding physically, but there are no losses, you’re just gaining experience out of it,” said Chaudhari, second runner up in the motorcycle category. Meanwhile, Hemangi who also bagged third place in the team challenge said, “This was my first enduro experience, and I did not expect so much of rain, and the challenges that come with it, but it was really fun and an amazing experience overall.”
Here's a summary of the top three finishers in each of the categories:
Ironman Motorcycle category
First: Russel Jossy
Second: Laukik Pashte
Third: Nitish Chaudhari
Ironman Scooter category
First: Mayur Tarkar
Second: Tejas Kadam
Third: Shahrookh Namazi
Hard Enduro (Team Challenge)
First: Team KN Performance – K.Kannan Naidu, Mayur Tarkar, Sudesh Parkar
Second: BDC96 & RSA – Brendon & Dwayne
Third: Charlies Angles – Kalyani, Anita , Hemangi
The monsoon challenge was the first of its kind of endurance racing event organised by Venomotorsportz, and the team will be back with more such events in varied conditions, but none of that will be any less challenging. “I am not going to promise a picnic on any of these events. If you really want to prove something to the world, and if you are serious about racing, then enter these races. These are not picnic races, they are actually gruelling,” said Agloria.