Austrian motorcycle maker, KTM, recently held its RC Cup qualifiers in Bengaluru, which saw participants from all over Karnataka, including Goa, take a shot at setting the fastest lap and making it to the finals that will be held in MMRT, Chennai. The participants raced on RC 390s, provided by KTM.
The said motorcycles were stock, apart from the mirrors, blinkers, tail section, and the ABS and traction control removed. This is to give the riders better braking performance on the track and remove any electronic nannies that might hinder performance.
Riders are timed on every lap, and the 10 fastest riders from each city will compete against each other. This comes down to 80 riders and amongst them, 20 will be selected to race in the finals, under the watchful eye of ex-MotoGP rider, Jeremy McWilliams, the Director of the KTM RC Cup.
The top 3 winners get a chance to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Austria, train under McWilliams, interact with the KTM Factory team, visit the KTM Motohall, and even get to watch the MotoGP race at the Red Bull Ring this August.
However, to qualify to race in the RC Cup, one must own a KTM, any KTM model. For the non-owners, KTM will allow you to do level one, but with an affidavit and a NOC if a friend has a motorcycle. To progress to the next level, one has to buy a KTM. Although a bit disappointing, the KTM RC Cup is meant for KTM owners and now with other companies organising their own one-make races such as TVS, Honda, and Yamaha, there are multiple platforms.
The KTM RC Cup has a unique format, as riders, instead of competing head-on all at once, go on three laps. The first lap or the in-lap is to warm up, while the second lap is timed, and the third lap, called the out-lap is when the rider heads back to the pits. The motorcycles are equipped with a transponder that automatically records lap times, leaving out the possibility of human error.
However, there is one lingering question — why is KTM hosting circuit races when the company is known for its off-road heritage? “We started our journey in India with street bikes, with the Duke and the RC series,” says Paawan Tandon, Division Manager – Rides and Community. “Since the majority of the KTMs sold in India are either the Duke or the RC range, starting with circuit races makes sense,” he added.
Tandon adds, “We will eventually have more in the future, including off-road events, however, at the moment, we don’t have anything in the pipeline as the Adventure models only make up 20 percent of our overall sales. But we will soon come up with off-road competitions.”
That said, when KTM does plan an event, it could be a top name taking charge, such as Chris Birch, or even an ex-Dakar rider. The RC Cup is handled by Gusto Racing, a Chennai-based academy founded by seven-time national champion, Emmanuel Jebaraj. He, along with his team are at every event, training riders, giving them feedback, and ensuring safety on the track.