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Racing is never stagnant. It never brings about the complacency of your 9 to 5 desk ordeal. Racing is all about trying to be better, trying to outdo oneself, trying to be at the top of the game. It is about evolution. Exactly the motto TVS Racing imbibes in every activity they undertake. Be it rallying or road racing, they have taken it extremely seriously to bring forth the best from both man and machine. So it was only natural for them to put their latest creation – the TVS Apache RR 310 – for racing use as the choice of machinery for their premier class one-make championship series. And boy are we smitten by it. So much so, that I have implored TVS to make production-spec bikes of the race bike. Why? Read on.
Right from the Akula 33 concept showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo to the road-legal motorcycle launched late last year, the TVS Apache RR 310 was sure to be based on a solid platform for newbies and enthusiasts alike. It is the love-child of BMW Motorrad’s small capacity ambitions and TVS’ 35 years of racing pedigree. When we did our mega-shootout for our sister publication, Fast Bikes India, the Apache was perhaps the best package of the six bikes on test. The chassis was as communicative and responsive as the Yamaha R3. The aero efficiency was unmatched. And it had the road presence of a larger capacity supersport.
Yet there were certain chinks that made me a bit hesitant from tipping the scales in its favour. The pegs scraped more often than not as they weren’t as rear-set as one would expect of a supersport. It didn’t have that raw engagement or the character that we expect from BMW engines. The vibrations were a constant point of debate in the office – something which the customers are also voicing as not being unbearable but not very pleasant either. And the biggest issue in my opinion were the tyres. They are okay for normal riding about but push them hard and you’ll find they simply don’t have the adhesive qualities you need when you want maximum velocity.
At the launch of the motorcycle itself, TVS had announced they would be using the Apache RR 310 for their one-make series and that we should be excited for what was in store. When details of the race bike were made public prior to the start of the first round of the championship, I was already salivating at the opportunity to ride the tuned babe.
Visually, TVS Racing has not done anything to change the styling or the fairing in any manner. Why should they when that particular aero package translates to a drag co-efficient of 0.26! They just got rid of unnecessary bits and bobs that have no place in the world of motor-racing.
When they introduced the race bike at Kari, they had just fiddled around in the engine department to make it livelier. It got a new free flow intake and exhaust as well as a thoroughly new engine map for the Bosch ECU with major modifications made to the rev limiter. As a result the 312.2cc motor now makes 37.5bhp at 10,300rpm. That’s four ponies gained at a higher rpm. It gets a new throttle system as well. By system I mean, new 40mm throttle body as well as a quick throttle.
Initially, they made just the one change when it came to the rider triangle – introduction of rear-set footpegs. That should get rid of the scraping problem then. So, the flavours of the dish have become stronger. It was just a matter of time before we tasted them.
It was far better than I dreamed of. From the moment I rode out from the pits for practice, to the time I finished my second race, there was a constant sense of encouragement as well as excitement from the bike, something that was absent at first. We were given the motorcycle in the third round of the championship. And the bike has already evolved over the last two rounds to make it all the better for us. The front end has been dropped by a couple of millimetres, making the geometry even sharper. Also, as a treat for us media folk, they had spec-ed our motorcycles with Metzeler rubbers instead of the stock Michelins. Yummy!
Let me set the record straight. There was no way that an oversized oaf like me would be anywhere as close to the lanky racer boys. My sole aim for the weekend was to improve my pace. And above else have fun. Riding out of the pits, it is about getting familiar with the motorcycle as quickly as possible. You only get a single practice session of 30 minutes, which means every millisecond counts.
My previous markers for a racing weekend were revised in the out-lap. Having ridden smaller cubic capacity motorcycles earlier which didn’t have ABS units, which were as competent and sophisticated as the ones on the RR, my braking markers were too early for it. I was feeling comfortable in saddle but I was not pushing myself. No surprise, I was over 20 seconds off the pace.
As I began braking later with every lap, qualifying was a much better affair for me. I had to bump up the preload on the rear monoshock to mainly keep the motorcycle stable when shifting my weight or getting out of corners. The bumpy nature of the MMRT made it a challenge but the damping of the suspension units is finely tuned to iron out the kinks the circuit throws at you. Oodles of grip from the Metzeler M5s helped me get the power down quicker and harder through corners without worrying about the rear giving way. The speeds had definitely shot up and with it the lean angles too were increasing. As I rolled into the pits after the qualifying session, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. I had managed to better my time by nearly seven seconds, the gap to the pole-sitter was now 14 seconds.
I had to better my result. I had to go faster in the races. I was mentally challenging myself to go faster. Go lower. Open the taps quicker. Result? I banged in my fastest lap time of the weekend on the penultimate lap – 2:12.745. Ten seconds worth of improvement over the course of an hour and a half of riding on the track. Never had I improved so dramatically. And that’s the best part about this motorcycle – its constant encouragement from the entire package is not matched by many of its rivals.
I’m now begging TVS to get a road-spec version of this bike as a performance version or a kit with a new moniker. An Apache RR 310 R perhaps. Has a nice ring to it, right?