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Old 20th December 2011, 17:28   #1
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Default My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

I made my International debut last week at the Colombo Night Races and came back with a Victory!

This was the inaugural year of the Colombo Night Races and it was probably the biggest Motorsport Festival in the Indian sub-continent.
Get this: 152 Cars, 9 Categories, 2 nights full of racing in the heart of Colombo !!! Pure Awesomeness.

The Cars included GT3 and GT4 supercars, VW Polo R Cup, Formula Fords, Formula LGB Swifts, Honda 1600s, Nissan Marchs, etc. etc. There were also bikes.

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-20.jpg

Sri Lanka is a car crazy nation, they love their cars and they love racing them. So, they have decided that they will have their own mini Macau GP on their own land. For 2 nights a year, Colombo will come to a stand-still while cars from all over the world scream on their streets and fill the air with the growl of engines.

I landed in Colombo expecting a fun weekend but then I was taken aback with the sheer scale of the event. The races were to be held from 7pm to almost 3am on closed streets. Checked into my hotel in whose parking lot would be the pits for the international cars. There was a sense of excitement in the air. There was a feeling that something big is about to happen. It was a very different feeling from what we get at racing weekend here in India. It was probably because I was not worried about how my pace would be, where I would finish, what would happen to my Championship aspirations, etc. But another factor was the sheer enthusiasm around me, there were officials making last minute preparations, sandbags being put around the track, temporary grand-stands being erected, a lot of frantic activity around.

Anyways, met with my team (VW guys) and checkout out some sights around the hotel. It was time for the driver's briefing then. We were given the low down on the Sri Lankan way of racing. Basically, they don't have a penalty system, any mis-adventure and one is directly black flagged. I kind of liked it.
Then we headed for a quick track walk. It was a 2.2 km circuit. They layout was challenging, with some wide areas and some really narrow areas. The track had one pretty high speed corner followed by a jump, which in-turn was followed by a pretty tight corner. Exciting, it should be, so I thought.

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-3.jpg
My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-16.jpg

It was already late in the night but could not afford to sleep. We had to change our sleeping cycle or else we'd be caught napping at the start-line. Our schedule for the next 2 days would be such:
06pm - Wake up and have breakfast
12pm - Lunch
07am - Dinner
08am - Sleep

Finally slept at around 4am of Friday. We were asked to report at 6.45pm on Friday for our practice session.
Slept through the day and reported, all-geared up and all at 6.45pm sharp. (Polo Cup has strict rules when it comes to adhering to the given schedule). But this was Sri Lanka, and it was their first year of organizing this event. Even the roads were not closed when we reported. So, we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, at around 9pm we were told that there was still time and we could go for a track walk if we so desired. All of us headed onto the track now. It had changed drastically from a day ago and now it looked much better prepared.

Alas, at 12.30am, we finally got to drive for our practice session. It was a 20 minute session. The initial laps were spent in finding the right line, the braking references, etc. I was worried about how I would cope up to a new track and that too at night. But once in the car, nothing really mattered. I got into the groove pretty quickly and was getting more comfortable with the track with each passing lap. Tried out different lines and also different gears. Finally I found a rhythm that felt pretty quick and satisfactory. The session ended quickly and I thought I would be quick enough for a mid-pack lap time.
The grid consisted of some pretty big names. Aditya Patel, a Scirocco Cup driver and now in the i1 Super Series was also driving. Raj Viruthan, the current Super Saloon Champion was there. Also, Raahil Noorani, Mihir Dharkar, Avdumber Hede, all front-runners in the Polo R Cup 2011 reason, were there.
After the practice, when all drivers compared their notes and lap times, I was in for a pleasant surprise. I was the fastest with a time of 1.13.1xx. But, the other guys were not far behind. Aditya had done a 1.13.2xx and Avdumber was third with a time of 1.13.3xx. After looking at our data, I found out some areas where I could improve my time, but so did the other drivers.

It was time for qualifying now. We did not know when it would start, so we waited. It was a long wait though. Finally, the session started at almost 6.30am. I found my rhythm quickly. I made it a point to not look at my lap times on the in-car display, as it could make me nervous. My sole aim was to not make any mistakes and push as much as possible.
At the end of the session, I finally looked at the display and it showed a time of 1.11.890, wow!! I said to myself. That was a really quick time. On speaking with the other drivers, I found that I was quickest again, and this time with a comfortable margin. 2nd fastest again was Aditya, with a time of 1.12.6xx and 3rd was Mihir, with a time of 1.12.8xx.
I really couldn't believe it, I was elated and felt really really happy from within. All through my racing career, my ultimate target was to match Aditya's timing. He was the official Polo Cup test driver and he had the fastest times of anyone at the Coimbatore and Chennai circuits. So, I felt that I had finally achieved my aim, I not only matched his time but was also faster than him. But at the back of my mind, I knew that all these guys would be faster in the races and I could not afford to relax.
The official timing sheet was out soon after and I indeed do a 1.11 second lap. Unfortunately, there was some problem with Aditya's transponder and thus he had not recorded an official lap time, dropping him to the back of the grid. Thus, Mihir would be starting alongside me on the front row of the grid.



Went off to sleep. I was thinking about the next night's race. Only one thought crossed my mind though. Mihir is a drag expert and he is well known for his blazing quick starts. On the other hand, my starts were just about average. Somehow, I had to get a good start and keep Mihir behind me at the first corner. That is all I was concerned about at that point of time. Next day, I spoke to Oshan Kothadia, another driver known for his quick starts and he gave me some crucial tips.

It was time for the race now. I was surprisingly relaxed, which is always a good thing. I was informed that there was a pole sitter's parade. I joined it and was made to sit in a kit car, a Cobra with a corvette sourced 6.3L V8 beast. I soaked in the atmosphere. It was a fun. The audience was huge and very enthusiastic.
Anyways, we got into our cars soon afterwards and made our way to the start line. Formation lap done. The 5 red lights then came on one-by-one. As soon as they went off, I popped the clutch and I was hoping I had a good start. Looked out of the left window, through the safety net, and Mihir was not there. That was a good sign. Checked my mirror, and there his car was, within the safety of my mirror. This was good, I went into the first corner leading the race. Within 2 laps, I had a sizable lead, as Mihir was busy defending from Romani D'Silva, a Sri Lankan driver who was in 3rd. Then, I had a scary moment, at the biggest braking zone on the circuit, my foot slipped off the brake pedal, I then had to stomp on the brakes and this sent me into a partial spin. Luckily, I hit nothing and I had a big enough gap behind me too. So, I continued still leading the race.
The next 7 laps were super fun. My lead was increasing lap by lap, within a few laps I could see no one in my mirrors but I continued pushing. Finally, the checkered flag was waved and I heaved a sigh of relief. I had won the race and I was delighted. The crowd was enthusiastic and was cheering. It was a very good feeling. Snaked my way to the pits and everyone was happy and were congratulating me.

But, the weekend was not yet over. There was one more race, and this one had a reverse grid for the first four places. That meant I would be starting from 4th position. We lined up at the start line, my aim was to get a podium in this race. That would make it a perfect weekend for me.
Unfortunately, my start was not all that good. I lost 2 positions and found myself in 6th position. Although I was quicker than the cars ahead of me, this being a street circuit, it was very difficult for me to overtake. For 2 laps, I was stuck in 6th position. Then, on lap 3, I sensed an opportunity and tried to go it, but it was not possible so I backed off. But, this had destroyed my line into the upcoming corner and I went in a bit too fast. My car experienced under steer and was veering towards the foam barrier at the exit of the corner. I had a light contact with the barrier, but, it being foam, rebounded and pushed my car into a spin right onto the racing line. The cars behind me could not avoid me and within no time, it turned into a 5 car pile-up.
Got out of the car dejected. But, atleast I was unharmed and so were all the other drivers. There was a sad mood around because almost half the grid had been taken out by this crash.
Was given a lift back to the pits in the safety car. It took a while before a regained my composure.


The Red car in front is mine

There was no point in ruing about the lost opportunity, there were a lot of positives to take home from this weekend and also a trophy.

Enjoy the pictures

The Polo Cup Pits
My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-4.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-5.jpg

Views of the track
My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-11.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-12.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-13.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-10.jpg


Crazy Audience
My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-25.jpg


Some Beauties in and around the track:

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-19.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-21.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-22.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-23.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-17.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-15.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-1.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-2.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-6.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-7.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-8.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-9.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-14.jpg


Things that were not planned:
My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-24.jpg

My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)-colombo-night-races_polo-cup-18.jpg

Name:  Colombo Night Races_Polo Cup 27.jpg
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Name:  Colombo Night Races_Polo Cup 26.jpg
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Size:  57.0 KB

Last edited by jalsa777 : 21st December 2011 at 17:12.
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Old 21st December 2011, 17:17   #2
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Motorsports Forum. Thanks for sharing!

Heartiest congratulations on your win! Nearly a second's gap in qualifying is huge. I'm sure those final handful of laps were the longest ever of your life

Sorry to hear about the shunt, but I'm glad no one was seriously injured.
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Old 21st December 2011, 17:32   #3
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

Great reading, and congrats on the win Looks like you had one heck of a time on track and off it!
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Old 21st December 2011, 19:15   #4
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

Congrats !! And a very nice write up.
Enjoyed reading it. Thanks a lot.
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Old 21st December 2011, 19:42   #5
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Congrats, thanks for a great report!
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Old 21st December 2011, 20:37   #6
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

Congrats my friend, proud to have a race winner amongst the group. The crashed cars looks menacingly painful but, it is nice to know there was no hard done. Which one is your car ? Is it the first black one in the pics.

Did you do any tweakings to the car for the race ?
How did you gain entry to this event ? Are you a part of the VW racing team ?
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Old 21st December 2011, 21:13   #7
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

WOW! Good to see something from the other side of Indian Borders. Congrats for your win.

OT: Colombo has always been too infatuated with Automobiles and they do adorn some of the best ICE. Have been to Sri Lanka earlier on a company assignment and have seen these Car Racers, who meet every saturday for a race akin the ones we saw in Fast & Furious. Gleamy Automobiles, Blaring ICE and Speeds like a rocket. Been lucky to have a friend of mine in that group of racers, who took me to the event, which was worth every bit of it.
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Old 21st December 2011, 23:47   #8
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

Wow. This is really cool. When did this spring up and it is good to see the familiar streets of Colombo being used for organized racing (my CMB office is situated in the WTC by the way). As you stated, they are a car crazy nation and my god, the city is filled with some amazing cars and more than anything I love their sense of road discipline.

This is really incredible and if I had know earlier would have gone there for this
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Old 22nd December 2011, 07:54   #9
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Congratulations on your victory, sad to hear about your incident during the next race.
Keep up the good form and claim more wins in the next year.
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Old 22nd December 2011, 09:25   #10
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Congrats! Let the new year give you more luck.

And thanks for the pix and video and the write up.
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Old 22nd December 2011, 10:10   #11
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Enjoyed reading and congrats for the win.

No Slicks allowed for Polo Cup?

Akshay
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Old 22nd December 2011, 10:12   #12
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 90BHP View Post
Congrats my friend, proud to have a race winner amongst the group. The crashed cars looks menacingly painful but, it is nice to know there was no hard done. Which one is your car ? Is it the first black one in the pics.

Did you do any tweakings to the car for the race ?
How did you gain entry to this event ? Are you a part of the VW racing team ?
Hey, Thanks for your wishes.
My car is the Red one.

The Polo R Cup is a one make series. So, no tweaking to the cars allowed. The cars are prepared by Volkswagen Motorsport India and are identical to each other.
The drivers can make only 2 adjustments, the tyre pressures and the front Anti-roll bar stiffness.

The Polo Cup calls for entries from all over India. There is an age limit of 16-25. Then there are various selection rounds post which one gets to drive in the series.

The Polo R Cup is a part of the JK National Racing Championship. This round in Sri Lanka was not a championship round but more of a show-case race
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Old 22nd December 2011, 10:28   #13
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

Many many congratulations my friend on your victory! I can never thank you enough for sharing a detailed report ; the images and videos were the icing on the cake.

Err...I've seen many pics of many cars in the Accidents in India thread where the wipers get stuck halfway! Coincidentally, I've observed the front wipers on your car start working in the shunt video you shared. Can anyone share some light on what made the wipers operate on it's own? Please

EDIT: Giving this thread a very well deserved 5 star rating.
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Old 22nd December 2011, 11:52   #14
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congrats on the win, heard mihir won the second race
saw some videos, brilliant and fun circuit
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Old 22nd December 2011, 12:29   #15
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Default Re: My victory at the Colombo Night Races (VW Polo Cup)

This must have been a wonderful experience for you. The idea of a night race on the streets is brilliant. Hope to see it snowball into something as big as the Macau Grand prix.

But whats more promising is your progress. Beating established veterans by almost a second is a stonking performance! Hope to see you reach new heights.
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