Riding the Petronas TVS Racing OMC Apache RR 310
TVS Racing has joined hands with Petronas Lubricants International to form a long term partnership. The Indian team that will now be called Petronas TVS Racing is betting big on this partnership and rightly so. Petronas is a household name in the world of motorsport most notably in the world of MotoGP and F1. The league doesn’t get bigger than this. We were called to Chennai to witness the announcement of the partnership and also get a first-hand look at the new liveries of all the racing bikes in the team’s stable. This includes the RR200, the One Make Championship Apache RTR 200 4V, the OMC Apache RR 310 the Pro-Stock Apache RR 310 and their off-road machines as well. To make the day sweeter, we were also invited to take a few hot (quite literally considering Chennai’s summers) laps around the Madras Motor Race Track astride the One Make Championship Apache RR 310 which proudly wore the Petronas green along with TVS Racing’s colours.
Now, let me make it extremely clear that this is not a review of the OMC RR 310 because we mere mortals don’t possess the skills to fully evaluate a bike of this calibre. What this is, is the experience of an extremely unfit individual having the time of his life on a proper race bike. Let’s start with what the OMC RR 310 is all about. The bike remains mechanically unchanged over last year's bike, but any opportunity to ride a bike like this is always welcome. The OMC bike is not as committed as the Pro-Stock RR 310 or the RR 310 that was recently showcased for the Asia Road Racing Championship but is still significantly more focussed than the road bike. To begin with, the bike has gone through a serious diet regime and TVS has taken off anything that isn’t even remotely required and tossed it. Headlamps, gone, tail lamps, gone, pillion seat and footrest, gone, you get the drift. The fairing has been replaced with a lighter fibreglass unit with the cutouts for the headlamp now filled in. the silhouette of the bike is very similar to the road bike but what's underneath is very different. The handlebar has been pushed out and lowered by a fair bit and the rear-sets are placed further back and quite a bit higher. Higher than the race kit on the recently-launched BTO kit as well. Now what this means is more leverage to tip the bike into corners and more cornering clearance. This however is for a racer, but for me, it meant almost instantaneous fatigue.
The bike is also shod in super sticky TVS Eurogrip Protroq Extreme tyres which offer great grip even when the lean angles got higher and higher. All of the race preparation has led to a bike that weighs a mere 132kg dry over the whopping 174kg wet weight of the stock, road bike. This difference is almost immediately apparent. That in combination with the light alloys means that this bike steers on a dime. It’s a little too reactive and that takes some getting used to. This is in fact the general theme of this OMC RR 310. Everything is set up to be as sharp, precise and reactive as possible. Making the looking where you want to go philosophy one that you have to adhere to unless you want to end up butt-first on the grass or onto the tyre wall. On the engine front, the bike gets a free-flow exhaust, high-lift cams and a racing quick throttle. This bike is loud and the way I remember it, the quick throttle felt like it had quarter the travel of the stock bike. This meant that my throttle inputs had to be extremely precise without which I was pretty much sliding off the bike if I rolled off a little too much courtesy of violent engine braking. The suspension setup felt perfect for the track which it has to considering Jagan Kumar was personally involved in the setup of this race machine.
As much as I would have liked to have ridden the bike for a few more laps, my unfit, fat body simply didn’t let me. This goes to show the dedication the racers have to stay fit both physically and mentally to be able to push these bikes, hard, day in and day out. Not to mention TVS Racing, now Petronas TVS Racing’s commitment to making a truly world-class factory team with world-class machines and athletes. As for me, one gym membership, please.