The death of bike racer S. Dinesh during a pay-and-practice session at the Madras Motor Race Track in May this year is still fresh in the racing fraternity’s memory.
The incident forced the Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) to meet the riders and seek their views on the way forward. The riders asked for better safety measures and to its credit, the MMSC has made progress on most of the riders’ demands.
It has ensured the presence an ambulance, marshals, two paramedicals and a doctor during testing (expenses to be borne by the company organising the testing) and pay-and-practice sessions.
All the National championship riders have signed the Cashless Insurance Scheme with a total cover worth Rs. 3 lakh.
“We finished everything before the second round of the National championship in Chennai,” MMSC secretary Pramod Kumar told The Hindu. He clarified that the insurance scheme was also open to those taking part in the one-make series, already covered by a group policy (pay and then claim), if they wished to make use of it.
Top Indian riders seemed satisfied with the quick response. “This is the right thing to do,” said Vivek Pillai, a young rider.
“Whatever we have asked has been done. As an individual rider, nobody was willing to provide insurance to us. It’s a great move by MMSC.”
Multiple National champion Rajini Krishnan (covered by his sponsor Moto-Rev) said, “safety measures have definitely improved now” and Emmanuel Jebaraj, the riders’ representative, agreed that the MMSC had acted swiftly.
However, the track has come in for criticism from many international riders. During the Petronas Asia road racing championship here recently, many foreign racers said it was not up to the international standard.
But Pramod said the FIM (the international body for motorcycles) inspected the track before the Asian championship in Chennai and certified it as good.
“Major work has been completed on the track including the run-off areas and cutting off the grass, and we are happy about it,” said Pramod.
He refused to term the measures as ‘wake-up call’, but said “the incident (death) prodded us. It was at the back of our mind.”
But the compensation to Dinesh’s family is still pending. “The committee is looking at it. It is on the agenda,” said Pramod.