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In the highly competitive automobile industry in India, team TVS Racing has emerged as the undisputed two-wheeler leader. TVS Motor Company is strongly committed to Motor Racing, in India and has been responsible for growing interest and enthusiasm for the sport in this country.
The beginning of racing at TVS
It all began way back in 1984 when Sundaram Clayton Limited (A TVS Group company) introduced its 50 CC mopeds in the arena of road racing, notching up unbelievable speeds of 105 kmph. Since then, there has been no looking back for TVS Motor Company. TVS Racing was established in 1987 with the objective of improving the performance of its bikes. Over the years it has provided valuable data, design inputs, development of reliable motorcycle models, excellent vehicle dynamics & handling etc. The true evidence of it is seen in today�s TVS Apache and Star.
The Evolution of Racing at TVS
The next significant stride TVS Racing took was in 1986-87 when TVS introduced 100 cc AX 100 model Motorcycles into road racing. These bikes during its time were undisputed in the Indian soil as it had power up to 16 bhp as against a mere 7-8 bhp in commercial bikes.
In the year 1989, TVS Racing for the first time actively participated in off road racing events such as Motocross, Dirt Tracks, Rally etc. This was a logical decision by TVS Racing especially since they wanted to showcase their technical prowess to the public across the country. This was also the time when off track racing events started gaining its popularity in India.
TVS Racing put their own bikes including imported Suzuki machines to rigorous test by participating in all major motocross and rally events and thereby gaining experience to take home as feedback. In 1991 TVS developed their first Motocross bike fitted with an indigenous engine to participate in the Expert Class Group B bike category, which is more popularly known as Shogun. The Shogun Engine was modified to participate in other classes of race and since then there has been no looking back for TVS Racing. This bike went on to become the undisputed winner for over 10 years by winning all the races in its class.
1995-96 saw the introduction of two more Suzuki bikes by TVS Racing and this enhanced its competency levels by a series of winning streaks at the Championship level. The year 2000 saw the introduction of higher classes of races including up to 250 cc categories. Since this introduction, TVS racing has emerged victorious in all classes and has kept the National Championship ever since. Today, under the upto 180 cc bike class category, TVS Fiero has taken a dominant position in the Fours Stroke Category in all recent National Motocross Championships.
With high involvement in motocross TVS Racing has extracted a major advantage from this sport by using the racetrack as a testing opportunity for their motorcycles. Testing of these motorcycles on different terrain and varying temperatures has helped the company to test and develop its motorcycles much faster than if the motorcycles were tested on the street, giving the technical department valuable feedback and data to help improve on standards.
It has to its credit an astonishing over 90% success rate in all leading racing events in the country since 1987. Some of the major successes of the team have been
Win in Raid De Himalaya Rally 1999
National Road Racing Championship - won continuously from 1995 to 2001
MRF National Motocross Championship - have won in all leading classes for last 4 years
Gulf Dirt Track 2002 won in foreign open class and 2003 won in Indian modified class
Over 90 per cent victory in 270 races participated so far.
Perhaps the biggest triumph for TVS Racing was its participation in 5 prestigious International events last year of which they emerged champions in two of them; Lake Cross 2003 and 2004 and Fox Hill Super Cross 2003 and 2004 held in Sri Lanka. The year 2003 saw TVS�s ace rider C. Vijaykumar emerge victorious and 2004 had Syed Rehman of TVS Racing winning against leading Sri Lankan racers in Honda and Kawasaki bikes. In addition TVS rider C. Vijaykumar has earned the distinction of being the sole representative of India in the Asian Championships.
What is Motocross all about
Internationally Motocross is an outdoor dirt bike competition using long courses over natural terrain with some manmade jumps. It is seen as a family sport with parents assisting their young children teaching them the basics. Motocross involves racing in what are called Motos. More popular variants of Motocross include Supercross and Arenacross, which cater to professional racers, larger audiences, TV, and endorsements conducted inside a stadium. In India, Supercross is construed as motocross and vice versa as it has been the practice since the beginning.
The popularity of the sport can be dated back before World War II in some parts of Europe and due to the war the flurry of enthusiasm came to a standstill. After the World War II the sport gained more popularity but speed, nimbleness and durability was lacking in the machines. It was in the 1960�s that saw its popularity spreading across the globe especially in the US where new dimensions to daredevil riding and mechanics were added.
Motocross in India
In India Motocross is practiced as a dirt bike competition using relatively short courses inside stadiums with mostly manmade jumps. Clubs with licenses in motorsports usually organize these shows in tie up with large organisations. Audiences are larger and professional racers promoted by two wheeler companies participate in racing. Earlier small clubs practiced the sport with participations from local and privateers as corporate participation was not available. TVS Motor Company was the first two wheeler company to involve in Motorsport in India in a big way by way of both participation as well as sponsorship. The sport received a major boost in the country with professional riders and efficient motorcycles being available for competition. As a corporate entry TVS M enjoyed dominance in both on road and off road races of two wheelers in India for over a decade. It was in the late 90�s that Yamaha joined the bandwagon to compete with TVS M.
Apart from Motocross / Supercross there are also Dirt track race, drag race, hill climb, rally etc. Dirt Track racing is conducted on flat dirt surface. There are no jumps in dirt track however, it has bends and curves. Drag race is a straight stretch of road and usually winners are judged on the basis of timings achieved for a particular distance. Hill climbs tracks are very rare in India and two wheeler rallies are rare compared to motocross events in India.
As on today TVS M and Yamaha are the only two companies that participate in this sport in India with professional racers. Few individuals and local racers too participate in races held locally. The organizers normally hold local class races to encourage local participation. In terms of sponsorship MRF spends the most with the title of national motocross championship credited to them. The national dirt track championship title is credited to Gulf Oil. Other leading sponsors include, Kalyani Brakes, Indian Oil Corporation, BPCL, Gulf Oil, TVS Motor Company and Yamaha.
TVS M is the only company that views the sport as a direct arm of their R&D. Yamaha Racing in India is being promoted by a Bangalore based dealer with support from Yamaha Singapore. The Indian arm of Yamaha�s involvement is very minimal. Yamaha too have a professional racetrack just outside Bangalore city for their racers to practice. In the recent past Yamaha�s involvement in the sport has been increasing with more support pouring in from Singapore.
Controlling body of Motocross Events
A Central body called The Federation of Motor Sports Club of India (FMSCI) controls motor Sports in India. While the actual sports events are organised by various clubs in the Country, the guidelines, technical regulations and common organising conditions are formulated, co-ordinated and implemented by the Federation. They work under the aegis of Asian Motorcycle Union (UAM) and Federation Internationale de Motocycliste (FIM).
The Asian Motorcycling Union (UAM) was formed in 1998 as the governing body for all motorcycle sports in Asia. The mandate to promote and develop motorsports in this region is given to this body that comprises 18 member countries including Malaysia, Macau, Iran, People�s Republic of China, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Kuwait, Indonesia, Mongolia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Langka, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM), Switzerland, grants the sporting powers to UAM.
Leading organizers and Championship in India
MRF National Motocross Championship - This championship is by far the most prestigious of all two-wheeler races in India. It was first started in 2000 and is organized by Sportstrek, headed by Mr. Shyam Khotari. Mr. Khotari has behind him years of experience in racing and conducting these races. He was a key racer for TVS Motor Company in the past and has won a lot of accolades for the company. In all the years TVS racing team has been dominating the races in most of the 6 championship classes.
Gulf Dirt Track Challenge - This National event started in 2002 and in the last two years both TVS and Yamaha have shared honours in the two championship events. This event is organized by Sportscraft headed by Shrikant Karani, a veteran motorsports enthusiast.
In addition there are many other motocross events that are conducted by lesser known clubs and organizations in various towns. These events have always attracted a sizeable crowd ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 spectators.