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Old 17th July 2014, 19:00   #16
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Default Re: My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup

Round 2 - experience
What an experience? Love every moment of racing!

Race weekend 2 was a mixed bag, here’s why?

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-20poloround2.jpg

Weather:
Weather at Coimbatore was having its own roller coaster of emotions, it would rain for 30 mts and drench the track.
Sun would come out and dry out the track followed by another shower of rain.
It was nightmare for the stewards to decide on what tyres to send the cars in.
It was even bigger problem for the drivers to solve as slicks and wet weather tyres need different strategies to be employed.

A little about the driver coach, Aditya:

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-aditya_drivercoach.jpg

I have been fortunate to get good coaching from Aditya Patel, a driver coach who has been a pleasure to work with.
While Aditya has been my high school junior by a decade, I respect his amazing skill and his humble attitude.

Keeping Aditya’s pointers in mind, my timing has been improving consistently with my confidence in the car growing at a pace that I am happy about.

How does the car feel?
The car is just amazing! It is a beautiful DSG box mated to an amazing 1.4 TSI turbocharged & supercharged engine that puts a huge smile in your face.
The sachs suspension’s makes the handling sweet. The huge discs brakes at the front & back enables the car to stop precisely. The icing on the car is the steering wheel, it is small and it renders a beautiful feeling with its Alcantara wrap.
VW has done an amazing job in putting together a class machine. Such levels of commitment from the VW Motorsport division is commendable.

I am sure Jayant (Diesel_Convert) has more pictures of my office
A big shout out to Jayant who took the pains to travel all the way from Bangalore and spend the time to support me during the race weekend. Thank you buddy!

Friday 11th July 2014, Free Practice:
Friday’s free practice was split into three sessions, my pace kept improving with each practice session.
The feeling was there and the rhythm was settling in nicely. The tricky part of the practice session was that it was dry throughout. As drivers we did not have an opportunity to explore the wet whether tyres and explore its behavior.


Saturday 12th July 2014, Qualifying:
With the whether gods playing spoilt sport our scheduled 30 mins of qualifying session got canceled.
What we got was a 10 mins qualifying in the wet weather tyres with a track that was predominantly dry.
What influenced the decision was the changing weather conditions.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-vwpolo_dry_wet_track.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-itpours.jpg

What’s happened has happened but what matters is what happens at the race ahead

Saturday 12th July 2014, Race1:
It may not be the best qualifying session but it was what all of us had to leverage.
It qualified 15th from a pack of 18 cars. I was confident that I had the race pace to take this further.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-race1_2.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-race1_racingimages.jpg

At the start of the race, I moved from 15th to 13th with some good battles that were fought.
10 laps had passed when the race got red flagged due an accident on the track.
The race got restarted with 5 laps left to go! This time I moved from 13th to 10th at the end of the race.

With two 30 secs penalties handed out to the two drivers who finished 2nd and 3rd, I moved to the coveted 8th place.
A possible pole when the reverse grid gets applied for Race 2.

But due to an international rule, the aggregates in terms of times are taken and the finishing order is ignored.
A twist in the tale got me pushed to two place down the order and I had to take the start for Race 2 on 10th.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-race1_result.jpg



Sunday 13th July 2014, Race2:
I was disappointed but happy that there is race pace to challenge the mid to front runners.
I was happy with the improvement that I had shown, what made it sweet was when Aditya, the drive coach mentioned that I have been one of the most improved drivers and he was happy with the progress.

The weather was getting wet and we had to switch to the wet weather tyres.
I was not the most comfortable in them as I did not know on how the tyres would respond with heat in them.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-race2_grid.jpg


As the race began, I started from 10th and moved all the way to 4th by Lap 2.
I was charged, I was gunning for the front runners. With drivers in position 2 and 3 fighting it out, I knew I had a chance of a podium if I kept the momentum going.

I almost saw the chance and I nearly took car number 3 only to overcook the corner and let position no 5 and 6 catch up.
I raged a good battle with car no 5 and this was proving advantageous to the Race 1 winner and position 6 car catch-up.
While we went head to head in the high speed corner at C1, we had a collision that took both of us of the race.

Anger, frustration and a deep sense of regret engulfed me!
Had I finished 5 or even 6th, I would be at an overall 6th or 7th in the championship. Where I could have lived to fight another battle.

I could have done many things better, like
Showing restraint and letting position 6 pass and take the position back in the next 7 laps
Brake early, knowing that these are wet weather tyres with a tending to over heat when the track dries up

However, what I take home at this point in time is
Confidence in race speed and race craft
Self-belief that I can challenge the front runners and possibly gun for a podium

In closing, thanks to all my friends, family and supporters who have shown confidence in me.
Thanks to my PR and a possible line of sponsors who have made the right choice by in investing in me
Stay tuned for more updates as the next rounds are set for BIC in the next coming months.
Attached Thumbnails
My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-polo_r_cup_round2.jpg  

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-polorcup_2.jpg  

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-race1_round2_rain.jpg  


Last edited by raajks : 17th July 2014 at 19:04.
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Old 18th July 2014, 10:56   #17
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Default Re: My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup

Winning isn't everything Raaj. You have gained something even more precious: Experience and feel. So in the next race you are in, i feel you'll be performing right up there and i wish you the very best for it and also, don't have regrets. You have already shown the young Aditya how much you have improved and from here, you can only grow!
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Old 18th July 2014, 11:19   #18
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Default Re: My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup

Awesome journey Raaj. And congratulations to make it thus far! Having seen you on non race tracks on multiple group drives, you were then far ahead of the pack and you are far ahead of the pack even today

You have come a long way from that 10 year old picture narration to today. And when you have so much passionately pursued this, there is no stopping you. You are an inspirations for us to learn on something how to passionately and patiently to chase your goals! The line from The Alchemist (later in King Khan's OSO) reminds me - when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. And so i am sure, you will get there one day!

Keep racing buddy
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Old 19th July 2014, 22:21   #19
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Default Re: My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup

Thank you so much for the wishes guys!
Those words of encouragement are priceless!

I am threading the Alchemist's path, Avi. I love the experience and I love what's happening around me.

Here is the YouTube video on Round 2:
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Old 23rd December 2014, 03:00   #20
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Polo R Cup @ BIC: Letís put in a little perspective

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0553.jpg

Here is a perspective of what 6 races equates to,
6 races, one pre-season testing, 6 practice sessions accompanied with 2 qualifying sessions

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0552.jpg

Lap it up:
Close to 120 laps in the pre-season testing
3 laps in the Polo R Cup taxi, so the driver coach can see how well you drive
Each practice session is close to 10 laps, that makes it 60
Qualifying sessions last for about 10 laps, put in a 20
Each race is about 8 laps, 48 race laps in total

At the end of 6 races that spans two weekends equates to about, 251 laps of the Budh International Circuit.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0561.jpg

Weight reduction: Check

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-raaj_slim.jpg

I reduced to from 98 kgs to 79 kgs and was ready to take on the Budh Circuit for October,
but the round got postponed to November 2014. Surviving just out of Soy milk for about 2 months resulted in magic.

I did relax to get the bodyís weight back to 85 kgs but was happy that I kept the strength intact.

The fitness camp:
It was not that I got to spend time behind the wheel of the car all the time, you had to go through a fitness camp that tested you.
3x30 min sessions, where you are expected to run non-stop, do push-ups or planks or burpies or sit-ups and do a final sprint like the race finish.
The fitness instructor was good but we surprised ourselves by lasting these sessions and coming out stronger.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-g0010324.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-g0010325.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-g0010329.jpg

Round 3 @ BIC:
Itís all in the data: Pre-season testing
After completing around 300 laps in Formula 2013 in the Budh circuit, I thought I am good to handle the track and blaze through the field.
Thumbs up to Robbie for setting this up and inviting over, I was beaming with confidence.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-data.jpg

When the rubber hit the road, The feeling was amazing I felt I hit the apex and I was throwing the car at the right point.
But when I looked at the timings I was way off, I was off by 10 seconds from the leader.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-data2.jpg

I was looking at what was happening and I felt I was technically right until the Yoda showed up!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-prashat_yoda.jpg

After looking at the data for 2 hrs and looking at how I was driving the car, the conclusion was I was technically perfect where I was braking hard and easing off and throwing the car around but Polo requires a different set of driving, the one where finesse and a relaxed driving state is rewarded more

And Vola!
First practice session, I was 2 seconds of the pace
Second practice session, I was 1 second of the pace
Third practice session, I was gunning it and I ran out of fuel after 3 laps! Ahh!!

But the confidence came back beaming!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0566.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0616.jpg

Qualifying:
With a clear sense that I can set a good pace, I was confident of doing well in the qualifying.
I wanted to field to clear out so I let all the drivers pass by, with a 20 min qualifying, I needed 4 laps to set two good qualifying times.
Which required about 10 mins of time.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0564.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0558.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0559.jpg

As I started by flying lap, the qualifying session was red flagged as a car spun out and was dangerously close to the track.
I did not get a single fast lap to set the pace of be in the top 8 which was the target.

I finished at 17th place, yet I did not lose confidence as drivers like Hamilton, Rossi and Schumi has shown great potential by making places from the back.

Race start 1:

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-lineup.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-cheer_girls.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-round3_race.jpg


Great start and I started making my way from 17th to 11th while making a bunch of clean moves or what you would call as clean overtakes.
I was happy! Not elated by happy!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-chasingpack.jpg

It is always a fine balance between pushing it and making sure you bring the car home with ZERO damages.

Reverse grid, Race start 2:
Good start and the launch control did not fire, fell back three places and made up four and resulted in a overall finish of 10th.
Not bad, keeping in mind that kept making progress throughout the race and made up places.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-round3_2.jpg

Race start 3:
The second fastest time of qualifying sets the pace for Race 3, I did not expect anything special as I knew that I did not have a single hot lap to expect good places.
I started at a similar 17th place in the grid. There are few things that worked right time.

Launch control - clean start - passed 3 cars in the start and kept going and had fun through out the race.
Kept a good pace and finished 11th.

Did I grin, No! Was I disappointed, No! Good race and got the car back home!

A car with ZERO damages:
The only car to NOT have a single damage!
Is this a feat in a touring car where you are expected to brush with your fellow drivers? Yes, keeping in mind the damage bills it is not a bad thing to have!
If needed, I donít mind trading paint but there was nt a need for it.

Contemplation: Back home

There goes my car:
With a month to go for the next round, few things became apparent
My current Polo GT with the manual transmission was not aiding my driving aspirations.
I wanted to left foot brake and experience a sequential transmission, Sadhev Sequential DOG box or DSG or the AMT?

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-raaj_kids.jpg

Took the Polor for a drive with family and let go of the car!
Did I miss my car? No. Sequential box and left foot braking is all that I wanted to experience!
Did my wife miss the car? Absolutely not! With the rear bench at a premium, My wife always wanted a car that could keep her happy at the rear bench.

In comes karting:
With Jayant missing in action!
Zebo, Karthikk, Akshay & Mohan Doss became perfect mates to do some karting.

Zebo and I did some karting with KnK karts and some practice sessions at Torq03.
Torq03, hosted an endurance karting event where a team of 5 drives had to kart for 5 hours.
Had a great time karting and exercising the Left Foot!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-raaj_karting.jpg

As a team we did not win the event, but without the penalties we could have come 2nd or an easy 3rd
But got loads of experience in the bag!

Jet Set Go! Round 4 here I come:
Karting experience, friends that think of you as a great driver!
Confidence inspiring simulator performance!

Trailbraking pro with an inclination to practice brake drifting on the track.
This was the mind-set with which I approached the last round at Budh!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-timing_board.jpg

A podium finish, a top 8 over-all championship finish
Respect earned amongst the driver community
Sponsor offerings
VW Motorsport seeing a promising talent in me!

I started Round 4 with these aspirations! Aspirations which in my heart was achievable!

A cut too expensive:
I had a small cut in my right leg that was due to the endurance karting event.
I kept applying Betadine to ensure the healing happens quickly. Little did I know that the high Iodine content of the ointment and repeated application during the event could set some dullness. It was pointed out by one of my fellow racers where high iodine content during races are not a good idea!
it came in late after the races but nevertheless letís plough on to see how the story unfoldsÖ

Practice sessions:
Trail braking was kicking in beautifully and I knew where I could make more time!
However, I kept the car to be highly oversteery with a high rear pressure for a quick rotation of the car!
I was great it all corners except one! where there was a good potential to spin out!

With trail braking, a neutral set-up car is ideal for the budh circuit!
Stay smooth and use the kerbs, run wide and use full width of the track and you are set!

In retrospective, I could have used my practice sessions to lower the rear tyre pressure and experiment with a neutral setup

Qualifying:
With the fastest car doing a lap time of 2:26, I did a lap time of 2:28 in my 4th lap.
I thought I did good and went for a cool off lap to get back on pace!

With 23 cars spread out, I encountered a couple of slow cars who were in their fast and refused to budge.
I did the rookie error of not pacing myself well!

To my surprise, I finished 15th! Looks like everyone did really well.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-formationlap.jpg

Race 1:
I was feeling effy, thirsty and not feeling my best before the race!
Is this me putting up a silly excuse for my cut that was filled with Iodine? Maybe

Lauch control stayed at a 1000 RPM and I stayed in the same place for a couple of seconds.
I made up places and finished 13th from 19th.
With the climate at Budh getting really cold, getting temperature in the rear tyres that were running insanely high pressures were not helping.
I did see the rear step out on some of corners but managed to bring the car back home without any dramas!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-thetumble.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-driver_unhurt.jpg

Race 2:
The weather gods did nt enjoy a race with no dramas!
In came the rain and chill weather, along with it wet weather tyres.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-thebriefing.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-racestart2.jpg

Racing is an intrinsic sport, you know what you need to do! Always follow what you know!
I had opted for a soft anti-roll bar to ensure that car is softer in wet conditions, but for some reason I switched to a harder setup with a high rear tyre temperature.

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-racestart.jpg

What was running in my mind?

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0565.jpg

Being the rain master, I thought I had my chance at the podium with the rains coming in.
With a quicker turn in and an oversteery setup, I thought I could attack better and make time on others.

While I had thoughts on my driving set, A faulty front tyre with a leaking valve was set for replacement but the tyre change did not happen by race time.
Whatís the worst that could happen with a faulty front valve? Letís find out..

For every right hander, the car would oversteer and for every left hander the car would hold the line!
At the end of the 7 lap, the car would show tendencies to just spin at the straight!
With two spins, I moved from Hero to Zero. Where I parked myself as the second LAST car at the end of the field.


Race 3:
With a blurring top 8 finish, I set out for Race 3.
Instead of my ranting, here is a video of what happened

Youtube link:

Last edited by raajks : 23rd December 2014 at 03:06.
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Old 23rd December 2014, 03:20   #21
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My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-wet_wet_race.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-westart.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-wetrace.jpg

My closing thoughts!
Was I disappointed, Yes!
But if I wear a different lens, a deep sense of gratitude engulfs me.

I have had a great experience in my life!
I am proud to have been a racing driver.
My heart swelled with pride, everytime I wore the VW Motorsport T-Shirt. It has been a defining moment in my life.

I am a much better driver now that what I was a year back!
I have stopped looking for external validations on my driving capability, I am a racer, an R Driver

Family:
None of this would have been possible, without my family’s support! Love you guys!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0513.jpg

Sirish:
I am appreciative of the opportunity given by Sirish!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-sirish_vissa.jpg

Rayo: Driver coach
A sincere, driver coach who is looking towards nurturing and inspiring drivers! Thanks Rayo!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-rayo.jpg


Aditya Patel:
A good friend, a buddy, I take inspiration from him. My sound board for trail braking and brake drifting

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-aditya_patel.jpg

Prashant:
You have been a Yoda, who has inspired me and many others. You have a great potential to be a driver coach. Gifted!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-prashat_yoda.jpg

Karthik:
Good friend! Proud of what he has done!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-karthik_winner.jpg

Mahaturu:
Most promising young driver

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-mathuru.jpg

VW:
Awesome platform and I love what VW is doing to Motorsport! Great job! Love you guys!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-mechanics.jpg


My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-vw.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-mechs.jpg

All drivers of Polo R Cup 2014
It has made an amazing mark in my life, thanks for the amazing folks who make this event for what it is!

Name:  AllDrivers.jpg
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My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-budh_evening.jpg

Picture courtesy: Aditya Bedre and team

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-ronnie.jpg

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-aditya.jpg

Finally, ME:
To have sponsored myself all way!
To have payed my own damage bills, picked myself up and still have the drive to drive, Live to drive in the truest sense!

My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup-img_0576.jpg

Last edited by raajks : 23rd December 2014 at 03:32.
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Old 23rd December 2014, 08:53   #22
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Default Re: My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup

First of all, Congratulations for participating in the Race. Hats off to you Bro. Never get disappointed for losing. You are more fortunate than most of us who do not have the opportunity to participate in such races. Practice and such exposure to races will help you to do better and better.
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Old 23rd December 2014, 17:21   #23
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Default Re: My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup

Your more than welcome Raaj!! It was good fun helping you and the other guys and even more satisfying to see you'll get faster and faster!! Get back next year and we'll go even faster

Cheers,
Prashanth Tharani
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Old 25th December 2014, 02:01   #24
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Default Re: My journey to the 2014 VW Polo R Cup

You did pretty well mate. Main thing is to learn and progress every time you're on the track. If you do return next year I'm sure you'll be much faster and more importantly more consistent!

Take care!
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