Bhopal, September 10, 2017: Bhopal’s motorsport fans came out in large numbers and were treated to top class riding in the Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd Autocross for Scooters, at the Bittan Dussehrah Maidan, on Sunday.
After Bhopal MP Shri Alok Sanjar, Bhopal Madhya Kshetra MLA Surendranath Singh and BJP Bhopal General secretary Vikas Virani flagged off the event, Syed Asif Ali, astride a TVS SXR 160, gave a lesson in the finer points of riding to emerge the fastest rider in India’s first Autocross exclusively for scooters, organized by Mumbai’s Sportscraft.
The two-wheeler racing ace from Bhopal incurred 02:57.41 seconds in penalty points in the 210cc Group B (modified) class which was a clean sweep by Team TVS. He was 31 seconds less in penalties than second placed Imran Pasha and Aakash Satpute, who was third in 03:00:31 seconds.Simply put, the event, which had the huge spectator turnout watching in awe, was an exercise in the finer nuances of driving. While this branch of motorsport tests one’s skills in competition on a specially-laid out course, the idea behind event is to educate the rider in the safety aspect of driving.
The rain stayed away during the event, but the course plotted by Sportscraft was really tricky. Participants had to negotiate a winding, bumpy track under slushy underfoot conditions. In the circumstances they had to exercise utmost caution to maintain the right balance and speed to avoid touching any of the many obstacles along the 900 metres course that would entail penalty points while being timed to the hundredth of a second.
Muzaffar Ali, another local hero, also had a share of the limelight. Exhibiting smart skills the 36 year-old rider, who won the popular Gulf Monsoon Scooter Rally in 2013, rode with gay abandon to win two classes – 110cc to 160cc 2 stroke and 110cc to 160cc 4 stroke.
Astride an Aprilia SR 150, Ali was all class while negotiating his routine of two laps of 900metres each to win the 110cc to 160cc 4 stroke class in 03: 06:78 seconds. Pinkesh Thakkar, who won the day’s opening class – 110cc 2 stroke –was second in 03:08.20 secs while Venkatesh Shetty, this year’s Gulf Monsoon Scooter Rally champion, was third in 03:10:16 secs.
Ali won the 110 to 160cc class – 2 stroke, clocking 03:23:53 seconds as Bhopal riders took the first three places. Jaskaran Singh and Mohd Anwar were second riders. All three riders were astride an LML.
It was not easy negotiating the many sharp turns and hairpin bends, and some riders, despite having a practice run after scrutiny of their scooters on Saturday evening, took a tumble or two. However, it must be said that most of them came through the exercise admirably.
Nidhi Shukla of Aprilia Racing was the undoubtedly the best lady rider of the day. She timed 03:18.94 seconds in the class for 110 to 160cc 4 stroke scooters, while also winning the ladies Open in which Vadodara’s Gurmail Kaur and Bhopal’s Aiysha Aslam placed second and third respectively.
There was stiff competition in the 110cc Group C 4 stroke class, which was won by Venkatesh Shetty. The Lorraine Team rider, astride a Dio, clocked 03:25:25 seconds in penalties to finish ahead of Bhopal’s Yasir Ishaq (Activa) and Nasir Ahmed (TVS Jupiter) in that order.
All in all, it was an event to remember for the people and riders of Bhopal. Most participants experienced riding in competition for the first time, yet they had nothing to complain about the testing conditions. If anything, there was only appreciation for the event and its smart organisation.
Said Sadiq Ali: “This is the first time that I have been a competitor and I must say more than the competition I learnt a thing or two in driving. Watching the others go around the bends increased my confidence. I hope to use the experience when driving daily to work.”
Gurmail Kaur also felt participation in the autocross will make her a safer rider. “I hope the organizers have more such events.”
While two-wheeler riders of Bhopal can only wait hopefully for their next chance to bask under the sun, or rain, Gulf Oil certainly needs to stage such events in other parts of the country. It will make younger riders better and safer.