In conversation with K Lalnunsanga, FMSCI 2020 Upcoming Motorsport Person of the Year awardee
It’s not often we meet someone with the determination to succeed like K Lalnunsanga. This 18-year-old has already made a name for himself in the fraternity, even winning the title of the Upcoming Motorsport Person Of The Year at the 2020 FMSCI awards. Here’s what we know from a brief chat with the teenager who dreams of being on the MotoGP grid one day.
A big fan of motorsports, Lalnunsanga’s initial inspiration came from his cousin B Lalruatsanga, who would participate in both circuit racing (notably coming in second astride the CBF Stunner in the Intermediate class in the 2010 INMRC, and winning silver at the 2014 MMSC FMSCI One Make National Racing Championship astride the TVS Apache RTR in the Expert Class) as well as motocross (as part of the various races organised by the MiMSA or Mizoram Motor Sport Association ).
So, in 2016, the then 14-year-old joined MiMSA, and started sharpening his skills and accumulating wins and podiums in various club races as part of the Mission Venthlang Racing Team (MRT), all the while seeking bigger opportunities. His efforts paid off the very next year, when he was selected for the Red Bull Road to Rookies Cup, where he finished second behind fellow Mizo racer Lalhruaizela.
Being a racer means keeping ones skill at the very cutting edge, which Lalnunsanga does by practicing every Sunday on either a Yamaha YZF R15 V3 or a Honda CBR250R (both of which he borrows from his friends) at the decommissioned Turial airfield in Aizawl. Affiliated with the Mizoram State Sports Council, the training sessions held at the airstrip take place under the guidance of Vanlalmuana, or Mauntea as he’s known, a former amateur racer who set up MiMSA to train bike-crazy youngsters in a controlled atmosphere. Situated on top of a hill, the Turial airfield serves as a perfect location away from traffic, as well as the prying eyes of the public.
Additionally, Lalnunsanga, under his cousin’s guidance, has also been practicing for a possible entry into motocross. This has a multi-fold advantage: not only does motocross teach more about pushing the limits of a motorcycle’s grip, it also opens up another arena for competition, all the while imparting the essential fitness needed –leading to a faster, more composed competitor.
So does this young prodigy feel nervous before a race? All the time, he says, but nothing that can’t be allayed with a quick prayer. Once on the starting grid however, he has a simple tactic to get ahead: single out the fastest rider from the pack, and then start chipping away at his lead at the earliest opportunity.
This single-minded focus goes on to other facets of his life as well. For instance, to devote all his energies into his racing career, Lalnunsanga has currently taken a break from academics, and spends his weekdays building up his fitness by either exercising at the gym or playing the occasional game of football, while his weekends are spent at Turial. Yes, his family now supports his endeavours, but it wasn’t always so and he needed to convince them quite a bit to not dissuade him from following his passion. Despite that, his family does not attend his races, choosing instead to watch him on TV.
The way forward
His strong showing in the past few years in events like the Red Bull Race to Rookies allowed Lalnunsanga to venture into the expert category. He was selected in the 2018 Idemitsu Honda India Talent Hunt but failed to win the India Talent Cup that year. However, his failure did not deter him and by June 2019, he started training at racing tracks across the country, his airfares sponsored by Zote Honda, the Honda dealer in Aizawl. His hard work finally paid off when in October 2019 he won in the Honda CBR150R (Junior) racing category at the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup, and will, for the 2020 Season, be competing astride the Moto3-spec NSF250R, an awesome track tool.
When asked how he plans to bridge the gap between his practice and competition machines, he simply said he will learn the nuances of the bike during the Friday practice sessions and set his pace according to the faster riders of the pack. The most modest, straightforward answer, if there was one, and one that exemplifies this promising young talent to the T.
All the best champ, and we hope you, like you idol, the late, great Marco Simoncelli, make it to the MotoGP grid one day.