Race weekend – the easiest two words to get us excited as we look forward to full throttles, leaning into corners, fast exits and banter with the other racers. One such race weekend that came my way was the last weekend of September this year as Suzuki invited us for a friendly endurance race with other motoring journos from across the country. In fact, I'd done this race once before so I pretty much knew what to expect. But then, to our surprise and I'm thankful for it – Suzuki had lined up the new Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 for the race with modifications that render it fit for a tight track like Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore.
Last year, we'd raced on track-modified Suzuki Gixxer SF 150s which also serve as the race machines for the Suzuki Gixxer Cup series. This year though, we had more power under the right hand and better ride dynamics for more confidence on the corners and braking late.
The race-spec Gixxer SF 250 has undergone some changes that help it with quicker starts off the line and it's lost a lot of weight as well. Like every race bike, it loses the headlamp, the indicators, the pillion footpegs, the rear seat has a cowl, and the handlebar has been replaced with a clip-on one.
The big changes include the race-spec exhaust system for further weight reduction. Suzuki say that no changes have been made to the engine at all and the fact that it feels more torquey is that the engine is breathing better than the stock bike and it's much lighter as well.
The seat remains the same, however, the footpegs have been pushed back substantially for a more committed rider stance. The best modification, however, are the tyres. The race-spec Gixxer SF 250 rides on Metzeler M7s. It feels far more agile than the road bike.
The endurance race was shorter this year with a total ride time of 45 minutes compared to 60 minutes last year. With a mandate for every rider to spend at least 14 minutes on the track, so it was up to the teams to strategise which of their racer rides out first or spends more time on the track.
The race-spec Gixxer SF 250 definitely felt a lot more sprightly compared to the stock road version and thanks to the Metzy tyres, there was tonnes of grip and it was confidence-inducing for hard braking. The motorcycle offers sports class ride dynamics and remains extremely stable at speeds above 150 km/h.
This was the first time these race-spec 250s were raced on the track and perhaps next year, we'll see them make a higher-class of racing in the Suzuki Gixxer Cup. We applaud Suzuki's efforts into promoting motorsports in the country and letting young ones understand the sport and consider it as a career option.
Suzuki Gixxer Cup debuted in India in 2015 and has since become one of the leading platforms for young racers in the country hone their skills on the track. The championship comprises of four rounds which are organised at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore and Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. The race is organised under the aegis of FIM and Federation of Motorsports Club of India (FMSCI), in association with JK Tyre Motorsports. The Suzuki Gixxer Cup 2019 will have four rounds that started in July and will end in November 2019.
More about Gixxer Cup series: Suzuki Gixxer Cup fifth season to kick off on 27 July at Kari Motor Speedway
As for my experience at the endurance race, I'd say this is the best way of spending a weekend – racing. Randomly picking a teammate and coming up with a strategy to do more and more laps and being surrounded by friends from the media afterwards to compare notes – That is a good weekend.
The track-bred Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 makes for an incredibly fun ride and will be brilliant for young racers to further polish their skills once done and dusted with the 150cc class.
Compared to my best time during the qualifying round, I managed to shave two seconds off my time during the final race. There is only one outcome of this – I will be returning to the race next year, hungry for more.