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Old 20th June 2011, 17:56   #1
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Default My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

VW invited Team-BHP to the Kari Motor Speedway, Coimbatore to participate in the first round of the 2011 VW Polo R Cup. My excitement had no boundaries as it was always my desire to drive one of those souped-up race Polos. I had a long talk with Team-BHP member Shrivz who raced in the 2010 season of the Polo R Cup (It was just called the Polo Cup then. The 'R' was added from this season with its logo too). Here is a link to his experience in the same tournament : My experience as a VW Polo Cup Racing Driver (My experience as a VW Polo Cup Racing Driver)

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-001.jpg

Last edited by Stratos : 22nd June 2011 at 15:33.
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Old 21st June 2011, 17:28   #2
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My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0968.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-briefing.jpg

I reached the Kari Motor Speedway at 8 am sharp. There I met the other 20 drivers whom I will be racing with that weekend. The schedule table of the first day was long and started off with Volkswagen and FMSCI (Federation of Motor Sports Club of India) officials collecting the entry forms. The entry forms also included a medical practitioner approved health certificate and an indemnity form. Every form also had a box for blood-group. Mind you the FMSCI is very strict in-terms of documentation and will not allow you to race until all formalities are complete. This approach helps reduce negligent mistakes during a race and after a crash. After measuring our weights, we were given the racing gear. Drivers were made to pick up one of the many paper chits. This way the cars were assigned to the drivers leaving no room for cheating. Each driver is given six tyres that is two extra, one for the left side and one for the right side. They have to conserve these throughout the weekend.

After correctly checking the positioning of my drivers seat to be bolted, I went to have a look at the 25+ Polos parked in a orderly fashion in the pits. Without exaggeration, I must say that these modified Polos look absolutely stunning. You do the same exterior modification to your stock Polo and I promise you that it will turn heads on the road. The skirts and spoiler add to the presence, but what takes the cake are the stunning 200 / 605 R17 alloy wheels (200 = tyre width in mm, 605 = overall diameter in mm and 17 = wheel rim diameter in inches). The moment you notice this profile, you know that this car is a monster (more on that later). After breakfast, all the drivers gathered for the first briefing. Throughout the race weekend, the briefings were hosted by Ronny Wechselberger & Rayomand Banajee. My excitement was up to the brim when they announced that the first practice session will begin in 30 minutes. My very first drive in a race prepared Polo was coming closer. In this time, I had a good talk with the mechanics especially about the fuel tank which is 38 liters and is filled up completely before any session. One of them said that the car consumes approximately 17-20 liters of fuel for a 15 lap race. Later on, all drivers were asked to get ready and at exactly 10:47 AM, it all began.

Firing up the engine is like waking up a growling monster under the hood. Add to that this being a diesel, the sound is much more industrial. The absence of sound proofing ensures that you get a detailed engine note inside the cabin. As per the technicians, this 1.6 Litre engine has some of its parts coming in from Germany. Later, the ECU (Engine Control Unit) is re-mapped and a free-flow exhaust is added. It seemed that from this year, an after market Pipercross air filter was also added. The suspension and roll cage come from Germany as well. Last years Polo had a stock steering wheel where as this year they come with a smaller OMP branded one. As per another VW racing technician, this complete Polo is worth Rs.19 lacs.

Every car was provided with mechanics who would assist the drivers in attaching their 5-point harness, and the safety net by the window. Once you are secured properly in the racing seat, mechanics guide you to drive out of the pits.

I was alloted car number 24. The two digits that will stay in my mind forever.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-withpolo01.jpg

Almost ready for my first session.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0947.jpg

I slowly bring the car out of her pit. These Polo's have a wide turning radius. Taking a 90 degree turn at slow speeds is a pain.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0682.jpg

Race Control tower on the left, pit-lane on the right. Road in the center is the longest straight on this track. Used to be a runway for power gliders.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0739.jpg

Last edited by Stratos : 22nd June 2011 at 15:42.
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Old 21st June 2011, 17:29   #3
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Default re: My experience on racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup

Before entering the race track, all cars line-up in 3 rows by the pit lane exit, waiting for the marshals to show the green flag. With my excitement, I had a fear of damaging the car and running out of fame. Next moment, the green flag was waved and I was on my way to my first practice lap at the Kari Motor Speedway. I took the first lap at my own pace, getting used to the Polo’s braking and the line that I should be taking throughout the circuit. This 2.2 km circuit packs everything from tight 90 degree corners to fast chicanes and a 800 – 900 meter long straight. We were given 30 minutes for Practice 1. I decided to use all the time and get to know the handling of the car better. As the lap numbers progressed, I started pushing the car more and more, and going faster into the corners. I was surprised at the way she behaved to all this. Knowing in the back of your head that it’s a front wheel drive car with most of its weight located up front, you have to be ready that it will understeer when thrown hard around a corner. This fear was automatically thrown out my head in the first practice itself. The understeer is very easy to convert into lift-off oversteer, and trust me, it is fun to do it too. These Polos are so easy to control that anyone with basic physics knowledge of centrifugal and centripetal force will do wonders with it. If Indian front wheel drive cars ever had a role model, in-terms of handling, this Polo would top the list.

Some say that the engine is a Vento 1.6 but I was told by a race technician that it is not. It does share the similar cubic capacity figures and components. It produces 130 Bhp @ 4400 rpm and 250 Nm of torque @ 500 – 2500 rpm. For a car which weighs under a ton, these are big numbers. Power delivery is absolutely linear with no flat spot present in the complete rev-range. The engine sound reaches exhilarating audible levels as you near the red line, which is when you shift in this car, at all times. Gear change is quick and the throw is short. I was surprised to not find a short-shifter in this car. The steering wheel is electronically assisted and is very light. It does its job very well and the car changes directions as quickly as possible.

As the corner comes closer and closer, brake late, down shift, lift-off for a moment and she brings her back end out. Then hit the throttle once you have the nose pointing where you want it to be. You will be on your way smoothly. This is so much fun that during practice I would maintain large gaps with other drivers just to do this. It is very addictive, especially when you can control it. Full marks to JK for the tyres which are put on the Polo. The car sticks to the track like a snail even when you push it on tight corners. A little birdie told me that VW rejected five previous tyres from JK before actually approving the current lot. A race track is where you understand the importance of tyre pressure and temperature. Play with both, and the difference is noticeable. What I loved about these Polos was their simple construction. Between your feet and the road is just bare metal. At fast speeds, you can hear hundreds of little stones hitting the under body. I had experienced these noises in computer racing games, but to hear them in real life was something totally different.

Day 2 had a half hour practice session and a qualifying session. The anti-roll bar setting on the first day was at hard but for the qualifying and race, the officials decided to keep it at medium. The best part of day 2 was the rain. Since the condition looked like it was not going to be sunny, wet tyres were put on. At the beginning, I was skeptical about driving fast in such wet conditions, but the tremendous grip from these wet tyres provided some relief. Infact, the grip was almost at par with the racing slicks. Each driver gets 6 slicks and 6 wet tyres depending on the weather. Tyres which remain in good condition after a session or two are taken ahead to the next round.

One particularly funny yet scary incident happened in qualifying. After the third practice I saw three stray dogs exiting the pit-lane happily and going on the track. Nobody seemed to be stopping them and they kept on jogging all the way deep inside the track. I thought that the track marshals shall scare them off before qualifying. When I was on my fifth lap on the fast straight doing around 150 km/hr, I see one of those dogs slowly crossing the track. I did not want to change directions since the dog might do the same and I would end up sitting in a damaged mint with a hole (Polo). I braked hard and let it pass. Not the dog, but the car did wag its tail during this hard braking. Only if this wasn’t enough, the next corner, I find myself following a duck and literally had to stop to let it get out of my way. Even though these are touring cars, they do not have a horn. Although, at such an instance, I wish they did.

All drivers were warned to not drive close to each other but some how 4-5 of us ended up coming close. The Polo that I was following on the track started spinning. I braked hard. The result was an unforgettable view in my rear view mirror. I see a black Polo spinning and approaching me on its side followed by another Polo doing just the same. I quickly pulled onto the grass to avoid any body contact. Luckily all cars involved in this incident were left scratch-less. All this happened in a mere 5 seconds. My bad qualifying ended up putting me 20th on the grid.

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0854.jpg

Last edited by Stratos : 22nd June 2011 at 23:31.
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Old 21st June 2011, 17:29   #4
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Default re: My experience on racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup

VW Polo R Cup has two races on the race day. In the first race, drivers line-up according to their qualifying times while the second race has a reverse grid. So drivers who finish 1 to 8 in their first race, line up on the grid as 8 to 1 in the second race. The remaining drivers line up according to their positions in Race 1. VW officials helped all the drivers line up in the grid box properly to avoid any jumpstart. As soon as the red lights went off, all the Polos pounced together for the first corner. There was loads of body contact, especially at the first corner, with a driver loosing his front bumper as well. Most drivers were using a bit of lift-off oversteer in every corner to eradicate any understeer and by now, I was doing the same. It was thrilling to race with the real Polo R Cup drivers, some of whom are in their second season. Race one ended with me climbing to the 18th place.

After lunch, the second race began at 3:00 PM. I knew this was the last time I was going to drive my #24 Polo. I wanted to make sure that I enjoy every bit of it....and I did. By now, I had learnt most of the track. I drove with the best of my ability in the second race and ended up at position number 17. My fastest lap was a 1:19:925 and the best lap for the race was by driver Saif Mir at 1:16:916.

Race 1 and 2 Results:
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-score.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0876.jpg

Last edited by Stratos : 22nd June 2011 at 16:02.
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Old 21st June 2011, 18:09   #5
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Default re: My experience on racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup

In the end, it was more about experiencing professional racing rather than winning or loosing. I was happy that I got a chance to race with India's future motor sport champions. Kudos to all the Polo R Cup drivers for their superbly talented driving, VW Officials for their excellent teachings to the drivers and newbies like me, FMSCI Officials to keep motor sport alive and safe in India. A special mention and thanks to all the mechanics who worked on the cars. These guys are capable of fixing any mechanical failure in a matter of hours, no matter the amount of damage on the cars. They were very helpful during every session.

I can tell you that once you drive on a race track in a race-prepared car, any road car you will drive there on will feel boring. The racing bug has bitten me. Its going to be an unforgettable experience as one can never duplicate the feeling and ambiance of a race car. Every real automobile enthusiast must drive on a race track to understand what cars are all about. The moment I got out my car after Race 2 and saw her parked in the pits, my heart cried as she gave me the thrill and experience, that no other car has ever given. I already miss my #24. I hope to return to a race track someday driving something with rear wheel drive and with its engine located between the axles.

The Polos resting for the night.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0766.jpg

Only the dashboard unit remains stock. Blowers work but the AC does not. Powered-front windows.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0825.jpg

Empty rear portion space is taken up by the roll cage.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0826.jpg

Smaller diameter OMP steering is a new for this season. Screen behind the steering wheel provides lap times, rev-counter, gear change indicator lights which turn from green to yellow to red as you near the red line.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0692.jpg

The 1.6L oil burner.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0690.jpg

Thats me on 3 wheels!!
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0952.jpg

Gorgeous safety car. Special headlights imported from Germany. They are the same ones available on the international Polos.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0708.jpg

All Polos exiting the pit-lane.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0837.jpg

One-way radio (From officials to the drivers) was compulsory for Practice and Qualifying. They were used to warn us about track conditions.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0787.jpg

Do you spot something?
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0885.jpg

Drivers are allowed to put sponsor stickers only on the C-Pillar and part of the bonnet. Ofcourse, I had Team-Bhp stickers for that.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0976.jpg

Name and blood group on the rear windows.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0978.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-rain.jpg

These race-prepared Polos look yummy from every angle.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0758.jpg

Last edited by Stratos : 22nd June 2011 at 16:29.
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Old 21st June 2011, 18:18   #6
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Default re: My experience on racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup

Rains in = Wet tyres on!
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0779.jpg

Race winner Vishnu Prasad in his Polo.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0842.jpg

Race 1 winners (From L-R) - Mihir Dharkar(2nd), Vishnu Prasad(1st), Saif Mir(3rd)
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-003.jpg

The press conference for the first race.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0883.jpg

Body contact is a part of racing and the following pictures prove the point.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0892.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0985.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0988.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0991.jpg

Definitely the unsung heroes of the event - the race mechanics. Thank you guys!
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0995.jpg

The Paris-Dakar Support Touareg.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-vwt.jpg

Inside the Touareg. Rally driver Prithveen Rajan took me around the track for a lap in this one.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0770.jpg

Having fun with the drivers (me, Oshan Kothadiya, Munjal Savla, Vishnu Prasad)
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0972.jpg

Last edited by Stratos : 22nd June 2011 at 23:51.
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Old 21st June 2011, 18:22   #7
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Default re: My experience on racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup

Other than the VW Polo R Cup, there were IJTC Swift and Indian Super Saloon races happening during the same weekend.

What looks like a heavily modified Honda City for the Super Saloon race.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0699.jpg

A Formula LGB Swift.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0728.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0735.jpg

My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0751.jpg

The first corner is always the interesting one at the beginning of a race. Surprisingly, no body contact this time.
My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!-dsc_0916.jpg

A big thanks to Adhish Alawani and James Fernandes for shooting many of the above pictures.

A big thanks to Anand Iyer, Suvjit, Ranjit, Prithveen Rajan and others for their assistance.

Disclaimer : Volkswagen invited Team-BHP for the Polo R Cup. They covered all the required expenses.

Last edited by Stratos : 24th June 2011 at 10:49.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 16:24   #8
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Default re: My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

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Old 22nd June 2011, 16:49   #9
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Default re: My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

Awesome stuff Nishant and you are one lucky chap ! Those race bred Polos look stunning and inviting.

Must have been an experience !
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Old 22nd June 2011, 18:16   #10
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Default Re: My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

Nicely done, Nishant. You are indeed a lucky fellow. Also great to see Munjal doing so well.
Keep it up chaps.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 19:03   #11
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Default Re: My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

It would have been an awesome learning experience for you nishant !

Why is this race organized by VW? a marketing/publicity strategy ? do they intend to invite polo owners to atleast watch this event ?
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Old 22nd June 2011, 20:15   #12
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Default Re: My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

Stratos, You are one heck of a luck guy!!! Great write up with wonderfull pics. Loved reading it, with feasting on the pics. Like your placing on the wiper blade.

BTW I could not see the strut bar on the vehicle, is it there or not? So name some of the racing veterns you interacted with
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Old 22nd June 2011, 21:32   #13
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Default Re: My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

Its truly a fantastic experience to drive factory prepared race cars on a race track!

Congratulations Nishant! Your lap-times are very very respectable for your first time in the Race Polos at Kari.

A minor detail I'd like to add is that at Kari, we drive in 3rd and 4th gear. There's one slow right hander in which only some drivers downshift to 2nd. Its a matter of personal driving style and how sensitive your throttle inputs are. I haven't raced at Kari, but this is from my driving experience during the Final selections from the 2010 season.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 22:13   #14
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Default Re: My Experience - Racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shrivz View Post
A minor detail I'd like to add is that at Kari, we drive in 3rd and 4th gear. There's one slow right hander in which only some drivers downshift to 2nd. Its a matter of personal driving style and how sensitive your throttle inputs are. I haven't raced at Kari, but this is from my driving experience during the Final selections from the 2010 season.
Definitely what I experienced there. The track loves third gear. The only time I had to put the car in second gear (just twice in 3 days) was when I entered C1 very fast and knew that I wont make through C2 correctly.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 15:40   #15
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Default Re: My experience on racing in the 2011 VW Polo R Cup

Man, what a fun experience! 3 days on track with these gorgeous beasts. Must have been the time of your life...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratos View Post
....and 250 Nm of torque @ 500 2500 rpm....
WHOA! That stat really stood out!

250Nm from below idle RPM!?! Crazy.

cya
R
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