Introduction to Track Day 2019
Every year, the Autocar India Track Day becomes more and more of a logistic challenge. More cars, more people, more shots to be taken, more cameras, more footage, more data . . . .more, more, more. There is, however, a lot to be done before we can hit the track. We need to prep the cars for the shoot, keep our Vbox timing gear handy, bump up the tyre pressure on each car by four Psi (over the recommended pressure) and our army of photographers and videographers needs to be in place. Still, the Autocar Track Day, as always, is awesome.
The gritty old Madras Motor Race Track – which has always been the venue of choice for the Track Day – has had a thorough makeover, and the facilities are much improved now. What hasn’t changed too much, thankfully, is the track itself. Yes, there are a few more bumps, and it is even quite lumpy in places. The car certainly moves around a bit more in C1 – the corner after the start/finish straight – and the kinks before the back straight upset the composure of the car a bit more too.
What’s almost a certainty at every Track Day is a delectable mix of cars and motorcycles. From hatchbacks and small sportbikes to rapid four-doors and superbikes, you’ll see them all at the Autocar India Track Day. It doesn’t matter if they’re affordable or expensive – if they’ve got what it takes to make every lap a memorable one, they’re all welcome at the Track Day.
Helping us evaluate the cars is India’s F1 star Narain Karthikeyan. Narain’s methodology for getting a quick time out of the cars, as ever, is quite extreme. One out lap is all he needs to get to grips with the handling of a car. In fact, we sometimes exit the pit and get into corners one, two and three so hard, it actually seems like we are on a lap. Keen to find out just where the limits of the car are, he’s often at ten-tenths, and sometimes over it. By the end of the lap, now with the tyres well warmed up and having ‘downloaded’ and digested the handling traits of the car, we switch off the air con, call the tower and start our flying lap. What usually follows are some of the quickest laps the MMRT has ever seen.
Racing champion Rajini Krishnan is our go-to man for the bikes. As ever, all the motorcycles are run in their fully stock form and if there is any suspension adjustment, it is set to the manufacturer’s recommended specifications. Rajini does have final say on the tyre pressures. In most cases, Rajini runs a warm-up lap, followed by two fast laps, after which he returns to the pits to share his feedback and prepare for the next machine. Impressive is the fact that Rajini manages to adapt to a wide variety of models – ranging from sub-20hp street bikes and touring-happy machines, all the way to 200-plus horsepower monsters – in a short span of time and still manages to set blistering lap times.