With India's Red Rooster Racing finishing a creditable fourth in the recent Petronas Asian Road Championship, there is something to look forward to this year.NAVROZE CONTRACTOR

The first time an Indian motorcycle racing team ever entered an international event was in 2009.Team Red Rooster Racing of Bangalore, India, (sponsored by Bitubo Race Suspensions, Motul Lubricants and Project Mezzo of Singapore) finished the FIM ASIA round of the Petronas Asian Road Championship with a bang.

The team consisted of three riders: Chennai's K. Rajini , Bangalore's Rohit Giri and Gino Rea from the U.K.. Team director, Amit Sandill, Bangalore, technical director, Andrew Morrice from Singapore and mechanics from Singapore and Bangalore were also part of the team, which collected for the last round of the Petronas Asia Pacific Super 600 Series held in Zhuhai, China.

The venue

Zhuhai is a small coastal town with an international class racing circuit. It combines a scenic location with all the amenities needed for world-class motor-sports. At the circuit, all major motorcycle manufacturers, accessories, clothing companies had stalls apart from those that served excellent Chinese cuisine round the clock.

RRR has raced in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Chennai so far. Except for Sepang in Malaysia, the China round had the best amenities.

This last round saw Gino Rea, a 20-year-old rider from England and the current Super 600 Champion, come in as a test and prospective rider for the Rooster team with his manager and mentor Andrew Stone, one of the biggest names in racing in Great Britain. Gino's bike was new to him, not completely set up for his riding style and about 5bhp less in power than the Petronas bikes that had dominated the series. Gino, who had never raced on this circuit before, was competing with riders who had done hundreds of laps on it and also had a newly rebuilt engine.

The first practice session saw Gino learn the track. Today, a good rider memorises every inch of the track within four laps! So did Gino. In his third practice lap, Rajini high-slided and crashed badly. He was rushed to the hospital with suspected concussion. Fortunately he was able to take the start for Race One. Every race weekend is hectic for the technical team and becomes a nightmare when a rider crashes. Getting the bike back on the track takes hours. Day and night mean nothing. Work goes on non-stop.

Race One was dramatic. Gino had clocked the fastest lap time: 1:42:757 minutes, and had pole position. On the first lap a massive pile up saw four top riders go down in a heap, Gino included. The race restarted without Gino. Rajini finished seventh. Rohit Giri had a (Did Not Finish) DNF due to technical reasons.

Gino's suit was torn to pieces in the crash and he had to get a new one before Race Two. It was as exciting as a MotoGP 250cc event. With over 20,000 spectators, the atmosphere was electrifying to say the least. The first three riders - Hamaguchi, Kamaruzaman and Gino - set a blistering pace and traded places regularly.

Great finish

On the last lap Gino took the champion Hamaguchi from the inside, sliding his rear wheel all the way through the corner, to the absolute delight of the crowds and won. Gino also clocked the fastest lap of the race at 1:40:567 minutes.

Red Rooster Racing Team came fourth in a field of 20 teams, just behind the three Petronas teams who took the first three places as overall winners of 2009. It was truly a heroic racing weekend for the RRR team and a first for India. “We were elated to finish fourth overall in our first year, but totally exhausted,” said Amit Sandill, team director. Added technical head, Andrew Morrice, “Every possible problem you can think of cropped up and we had to work round the clock to get the bikes ready.”

RRR Managing Director Dinesh Reddy congratulated the team saying: “We have done the unexpected. We will surely be there in 2010 to do even better”. Gino Rea commented: “It was a surprise and a great pleasure to ride for such a professional team as the RRR. Beating Hamaguchi is no joke. I am eagerly looking forward to riding for the team in the 2010 series.”

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Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012