To the average motorcyclist, racing is merely a dream, or a spectacle he witnesses on television or at a racetrack. There’s not many bikers who are able to live the dream of making it to the starting grid of a racetrack and race themselves. More so is the case given the high expenses and the demanding nature of the sport, it being an expensive and full-time sport. The popularity of motorsport has gone up manifold in our country in the recent past, and the number of bikers wanting to race themselves has shot up significantly. Bajaj Auto provided one such opportunity to owners of its Pulsar RS200, in the form of the Pulsar Festival of Speed.
The idea was to give owners of the Pulsar RS200 an opportunity to live their dream of racing, without having to worry about the exorbitant expenses involved in racing. This is a first of its kind initiative from the manufacturer, who has turned the Pulsar into probably the strongest performance motorcycling brand in the country since the Pulsar was first launched way back in 2001. The Pulsar brand has evolved extensively over the years since then, moving from a naked streetbike with a raw appeal for the streets to a full-fledged, wholesome product that can thrill enthusiasts with its performance and handling on a racetrack as well, as displayed aptly by the current flagship, the Pulsar RS200.
After six regional rounds that were held in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai, the final round was held at the MMRT, (Madras Motor Race Track) near Chennai, a full-fledged race circuit that plays host to several national and international racing championships. The top six finishers from each regional round, where Pulsar RS200 owners raced on smaller, go-kart tracks were invited to the MMRT for the grand finale. And like the regional rounds, the finale once again was not just about the racing – it was, as aptly called by Bajaj Auto, India’s first Speed Biking Festival, with a host of adrenaline pumping activities lined up for enthusiasts. The activities included a motocross track, cycle stunting, skateboard performances, stunt performances by the official Bajaj Pulsar stunt group Ghost Ryderz, bungee jumping and a live performance by noted playback singer Benny Dayal.
The scorching temperatures of Chennai were matched perfectly by a scorching performance on track by the Bajaj Pulsar RS200, which has won several accolades for its design, performance and handling. The Pulsar RS200 has evolved the Pulsar brand into a wholesome one, with its light weight, nifty performance and sporty handling that has helped it gain favour as track tool as well, and not just a thrilling motorcycle for the streets. With a liquid-cooled, 199.5cc single cylinder engine that produces an impressive 24.5PS of power along with 18.6Nm of torque, the Pulsar RS200 boasts credentials in its segment like few other motorcycles do. Bajaj Auto has been working constantly behind the scenes on further elevating the lofty standards set by the Pulsars over the years, and the RS200 is indeed the pinnacle of the brand’s efforts. Thanks to the bike’s aggressive and sporty design, brisk performance, agile handling and well-balanced suspension setup, the RS200 owners were able to enjoy their time at the race track.
The 36 final competitors were given proper training on day, including theory sessions where they were introduced to the concept of riding competitively, how it differs from riding on the streets and the body posture needed to go faster on a racetrack. Once done with the theory sessions, the racers were taken on track where got to experience and understand riding on a racetrack first hand, while also learning the finer nuances of competitive riding. Day 2 was judgement day for the 36 Pulsar RS200 owners. They were first sent out for practice in two batches of 18 each, following which riders were divided into groups of 9 each and each group was sent out on track for 15 minute qualifying sessions. Of these, the top 18 riders were short listed for the final race, on the basis of the fastest lap times during the qualifying sessions. The grid positions for the final race were also determined on the basis of the riders’ lap times.
And then, finally it was time for the race. 18 identical Pulsar RS200s lined up on the starting grid of the Madras Motor Race Track was indeed a sight to not be missed. This was an opportunity of a lifetime and a dream come true for every single Pulsar owner on the grid, since they were getting a chance to race at a full-fledged racetrack courtesy of the Bajaj Pulsar Festival of Speed. The excitement in the air was palpable, as the riders lined up on the starting grid and the clocked ticked away till it was showtime. And when the grid lights went off, the Pulsar RS200 owners were looking at a gruelling, 12-lap race that would test their skills as riders on their beloved machines. It was a close race to say the least, with each biker going hell for leather, trying to lap the MMRT faster than everyone else.
The riders at the front even changed lead a couple of times, while the ones in the middle seemed to swap positions more frequently in their quest to go faster. In the end, it was Pune lad Saad Gaibi who crossed the finish line first to win the race and also the first ever Bajaj Pulsar Festival of Speed on its Pulsar RS200. Finishing a close second was Jonathan Johnson from Hyderabad, while local lad Yuvaraj S from Chennai finished third in the race. Saad Gaibi not only won the championship trophy by winning the race, but also a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, which is the highest ever for a motorcycle race in the country. Second place finisher Jonathan won a cash prize of Rs 50,000, while Yuvaraj was awarded a cash prize of Rs 25,000. And that’s apart from the fact that Bajaj Auto took care of the travel and accommodation expenses for all 36 riders and also gave them a full day’s coaching about track riding, courtesy the MMSC (Madras Motor Sports Club).
Commenting on the weekend, Mr. Sumeet Narang, Vice President, Marketing, Bajaj Auto Ltd said “We extend our heartiest congratulations to the winners of the first ever Pulsar Cup. Pulsar is about performance and speed and the Pulsar festival of Speed has been able to bring out the essence of the brand through this multi city high energy engagement activity. The event was a huge success with both the Pulsar racing enthusiasts and youths across the cities.”
The Bajaj Pulsar Festival of Speed was thus an event unlike any other and turned out to be a gala weekend for the competitors. It sure has etched its name in the minds of enthusiasts with its mix of adrenaline pumping race action, training for the competitors and the fun-filled evening Pulsar owners got to enjoy after the final race.