Alright, kids listen carefully, this is important. If you're a Rossi or Marquez fan and all you've been able to do about it is wear a sweatshirt marked '46' or '93', it is now time to start thinking about doing something concrete for that dream. If you've wanted to become a professional racer, go be a professional racer. It is thanks to institutes like Honda T.Pro Ten 10 Racing, riders as young as 13 or even under can aspire to race nationally and internationally.
Honda 2Wheelers happens to have an incredibly simple way to go about it. Honda invites registrations from prospective riders, who are then given a small test on a karting track. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President, Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, told us that the very first test revolves only around a rider's handling of a two-wheeler at a very basic level. The two-wheeler used for these tests is a humble Honda Navi.
The riders shortlisted from the initial test go on to be trained under experienced riders at T.Pro Ten 10 Racing. Prabhu went on to tell us that Honda also conducts interviews with the parents of shortlisted riders to let them understand how professional racing can, in fact, be a lucrative career option for their child. He revealed that only a handful of people pull their kid out of the programme. So, we've progressed from not understanding riding around in circles as a full-time career option to supporting our kids' dream to be a racer. And, by the looks of it, the scenario will only be improving.
Motorsports are fairly new to India, but the progress is definitely on an upward trend - proof of which is Idemitsu Honda Racing India's debut at Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) that recently concluded at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
Our point of interest, besides the fact that it was a great race, included Anish Shetty and Rajiv Sethu, who raced the AP250 category at ARRC. Idemitsu Honda Racing India T.Pro Ten10 team, including Taiga Hada from Japan racing in the 600cc category, raced at a platform which let the Indian riders be exposed to the highest level of racing in Asia.
Sethu finished 27th overall with 7 points collected over six rounds. His best finishing position was P13. Anish, meanwhile, ranked 31st overall with two points collected. And, as it happens the young riders who enroll with Honda T.Pro Ten10 Racing are trained by young men like Anish and Rajiv back home.
Making further progress, 17-year-old Senthil Kumar and 18-year-old Kritik Habib are testing at Chang International Circuit for the final slot in the team. Senthil has had experience in racing through the Thai Talent Cup and during our conversation with Kritik, it is quite clear that the confident young man is fully committed to the sport.
We spoke to Anish and Rajiv as well, who revealed to us that racing in Thailand they noticed the other riders were more aggressive compared to back home. The two agreed that they have improved tremendously ever since they first started riding for Honda. Read more about them and their stories through the link below.
Racing culture in India is quite minimal currently, but Thailand's Buriram treated us with a bustling hotspot of a racing town. After dark, locals got together with their motorcycles all with racing exhausts parked by the road and an impending get-set-go. Buriram also has a legal drag strip which is open to all and locals come and race their cars and motorcycles. That is just a fantastic plan to relieve a town's need for speed.
Until Indian motorsports catch up with the global standards, people like Anish and Rajiv will be spearheading our progress to racing internationally. It would be a delight to see an Indian team at world racing stages like Superbike Championship or even eventually MotoGP.