Let the words flow. Let the pictures speak

Speed ain't everything

“Speed is not everything”.  This has been the emphasis from day 1 at the grand finals. Stressing on the same, day 3 meant a fitness test at the Posche Human Performance Centre and seminars on nutrition and driver preparation at the Force India Headquarters.

Arriving at the Force India headquarters, The Final Eight were split into two groups of four each. While one group stayed back at the headquarters to attend the seminar on nutrition and driver preparation, the other group headed to the Porsche Human Performance to test their fitness.

Nikhil, Masood, Arjun and Anshuman attended the theoretical side of the day, while Parth, Tarun, Jehan and Shashank were the group chosen to take on the practical side. The individual fitness assessments included tests on body composition, strength, reactions and aerobic fitness.

The morning session witnessed Tarun Reddy pushing on really hard on the tread mill, where he managed to hang on to speeds of up to 16kmph. If that was not enough, he went on to take 20 chin ups and a pretty good quantity of push-ups as well. Competing well, we had Nikhil pushing up to 18kmp in the afternoon session.

Jehan managed to get up to 14kmph before suffering from a stomach cramp. However he was fit and back to get on with the other exercises required from him.

Due to a little injury, Parth took an alternative test and by the look of it, faired very well indeed.

Masood went really well up to 16kmph before the treadmill got the better of him. Last of the lot was Arjun, who again pushed quite well to go up to 14kmph.He never expected to do that well, was what he had to say, post his run.

The most enjoyable, as well as the one requiring a very balanced mixture of concentration and cool was the batak, a setup consisting of 11 light buttons, which illuminate on a random basis and require to be tapped on before the next one can go light up. Each contestant had a minute’s time to do it. After a practice session before actually being timed, each of the eight contestants made sure they made absolute usage of the practice session in order to be able to give their best in the session that mattered.

The seminar on the nutrition and driver preparation went on to enlighten the drivers on a diet that was right and nutritious enough, and the different requisites of a nutritious diet amongst other things. The driver preparation spoke about the right mind set required of a driver and various tips to get the same.

The highlight of the day was Hamilton’s (one of the judges) talk with the contestants. He said that it was a once in a life time opportunity that he wished he had when he was young. Giving his own example, he said, he was completely lost when his son, Lewis, told him he wanted to be a F1 driver. He further said, it was their hunger for opportunity that got them where they are today and it was what was required of the contestants as well. Commenting on an incident involving a contestant’s cold, he said in formula one, it might be raining, but one must be able to stand up to it and be prepared. He added saying that a few years down the lane, you might get the feeling, I wish I had pushed a little harder back then and I could have done it. He said, it was better to bear the cold a little more compared to the regret later. He went on to say that the contestants had to be more comfortable and get out of their nervousness.

We are sure, the talk proved to be one of great inspiration to the contestants, now and in the days to come.

Business Time!

Abha Mankar,  Anshuman Chatterjee, Arjun Maini, Jehan Daruwala, Masood Mahommed, Mayur Kamat, Nikhil Kashyap, Parth Ghorpade, Shashank Ravishankar and Tarun Reddy qualified for the grand finals at the Silverstone, UK, hereinafter referred to as, “The Final Ten” in the second part.

However, two of the contestants Abha and Mayur were unable to make it to Silverstone due to their visa issues. Thus, “The Final Ten” now stands to be, “The Final Eight”. We deeply regret the unavailability of  the above mentioned contestants.

Come Day 2, it was time to get down to business in Daytona. The day bore witness to the Final Eight driving on one of the longest circuits they had driven on so far. They were scheduled to drive the four stroke pro-karts having a top speed of 55mph in the morning session, while in the afternoon session, it would go on to a more faster junior dmax kart (17 BHP) having a top speed of 75-80mph.

Safety first; before anything, the contestants were first given a safety briefing on the various aspects of racing. Fresh with the safety regulations in mind, track director Jim took the contestants on a walk around the track giving tips about the various turns around the track. The international track at the Daytona runs a lap measuring 1150 meters comprising 11 turns. Almost immediately after the start line, turn one is a flat bend that is taken flat out using the entire available track. The trick behind cracking it is to approach from the right with an apex on the left at the midpoint of the kerbing, and then flowing out to the right.

The first opportunity to overtake, an extended S bend, turns 2 & 3 require hard braking. Cracking it would require one to approach hard on the right, brake just before the tarmac joint straddling the track. Turn in to slightly touch the flat kerb on the left but missing the kerb. Through the corner only allow the kert to drift of the middle of the track, any further will destroy the second part of this turn. Power should be applied at the left apex and held on through the second apex on the right. From the middle of the track, it is possible to take a small amount of kerb through the second apex. On the exit use the entire track available to the left.

Turn 4 is a very tight hairpin that is approached over a slight crest. The best approach to the same would be to move across the tack to the right from turns 2 &3. Brake hard just before the crest and be careful as the kart may be slightly loose and airborne on turn in just after the crest. This hairpin opens out as you pass through it. Make sure that the kart is allowed to flow out to the kerbing on the right to carry as much speed as possible through this very slow corner.

Turn 5 is a complex corner that requires an early application of throttle. Straight – line the first section, a slight left and position the kart to the left near the kerb. Turn to the right leaving the kerbing just before it ends and brake as you do so. It is only a medium to soft brake to balance the kart for a fast exit. Apex the first right hand corner in the middle of the kerb and then allow the kart to flow to the middle of the track for the second right apex of this turn. From the middle of the track aim to go out to the kerbing on the left for the final section of this corner.

Turn 6 is a fast corner that starts downhill and then bottoms out and returns uphill. Like many corners on this circuit it gradually opens out as it progresses. Approached fast downhill, a dab of brakes is required to steady the kart and to maximize the exit speed. The throttle should be reapplied as you turn from the left across the inside on the right before reaching the kerb and apex at the bottom of the hill. Hold the kerb as long as possible but the kart will be thrown to left as the corner starts to go uphill. It is correct to let the kart go up to the smooth kerbs on the outside but not the rough concrete that is immediately behind.

Turn 7 is a hairpin which appears immediately after exiting turn 6, and it slightly opens out on exit. Very little speed has been built up from the previous corner and a small incline further reduces the acceleration. Exiting turn 6 on the left, move across the track to enter this corner from the right. It is possible to turn across the apex on the left flat out or if this causes exit problems, have just a small lift of the throttle. From the apex at the middle of the kerbing, maximize the exit speed downhill by using the entire track to the right, and try not to use the kerb.

Turn 8; approached downhill after the second longest straight, this corner is the most difficult on the circuit. The straight before has a slight left turn that is easily straightened flowing from the right to almost touch the kerbing on the left and then back across the track to the right. It is very tempting to gain more room on the entry to this sharp left corner by going up the high level kerbing just before entering the corner. This is too rough and will unsettle the kert under braking. Stay as far as possible to the right without putting a wheel on to the high kerb. Brake hard from the middle of this kerb and turn into the corner just after the kerb finishes. Move across the track to almost touch the kerb on the left and then use the entire track moving out to the right. Power should be reapplied at the apex on the left and the kerbs on the exit to the right should not be used.

Turn 9 is a long fast corner that can be taken flat out in the dry. On the main straight get to the right and turn into this corner just before the lights and tarmac joint. Get close to the kerbing on the left just after the turn off and hold near this kerbing all through the corner. Do not take a normal racing line on the exit of this corner. Remain on the left, if possible, ready for turn 10.

Turn 10 is one of the slowest hairpins on the track follows the fastest section. The entry will be determined by the previous turn. It is important to be on the left so that a full racing line can be taken. Brake just before the tarmac joint and turn in just after. Move across the track to clip the apex on the right. From the apex travel across the track to the left to maximize the radius taken. Power should be reapplied at the apex on the right.

Turn 11, another corner that has a preceding slight kink before its entry. The slight right before is late apexed to straight-line it, and to position the kart on the right hand edge of the track for the entry of this corner. Brake whilst on the right just after the cut through. Power should be reapplied at this apex and then the kart allowed to flow across the track to the right without going onto the kerbs. The small patch of kerbing on the left after the kerbing should be ignored.

Lot of stuff to keep your memory occupied? That is only a sample part of what is expected of a wannabe formula one driver. The contestants took seats on pro-karts to go on familiarization laps before going on two back to back races. They were allocated random grid positions for the first race and reverse grid for the second one. Post lunch, they went on to ride some more powerful engines in the form of junior dmax karts. Again they went on practice laps followed by two heats based on which they were allocated grid positions for the race that took place in the end. The intention of the karting through the day was not to race and find winners, but to familiarize with the tack and the different karts.

As goes the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, so in the evening the Final Eight went to Xscape for some bowling action. They went on to prove that, karting was not the only thing they were good at, as the contestants won in their respective groups. Consistently scoring well, Nikhil went on to lead in group A, while Masood went on to make a late come back and lead Group B.

The evening meal was at the Pizza Express, and then back to the hotel after a tiresome day where they drove the karts for more than 100 kms each. Heavy again? Get used to it is all we can say.

Go Ape!

When was the last time you climbed a tree? When was the last time you swung of a tree? Do you know what it feels like to slide down a wire dangling from a tree and landing in mud? These questions and many more were answered when the finalists went Go Ape!

After a long journey that lasted over ten hours, add to it, the jet lag that always effects you when you travel against time, the last thing you want is to wake the following morning and get down to work right away. The pressure is always mad at the beginning; very reason why the FIDA grand finale made its beginning with a refreshing day-out at the Go Ape, Woburn.

As the entity says about itself, if the word, “Go Ape” were to be in the dictionary, it would be described as ‘tree-top adventure’. With tree-top high wires, crossings including walkways, bridges and tunnels made of wood, rope and super strong wire and wind-in-your-face zip wires, the adventures takes a path amidst the woods, giving one a mixture of nature treatment and adventure.

Exciting, though it may seem, the activity is highly risk oriented. To ensure the safety of the apes, they were given safety training at the beginning, followed by a small demonstration before they were finally let to go through the course by themselves. With over 20 crossings over 3 trails and finish on a high (literally), with one awesome zip wire, rejuvenation is guaranteed. Having proven their ability with the karts, the finalists went on to show that they had a few more tricks up their sleeves as well. Further, they also proved their ability to adapt to a given situation when on being stuck, all they required was a little guidance on how to get along and the theory was put into practice right away.

Come evening, the finalists made their presence at the Force India’s factory situated in Silverstone. They were given a tour through the facilities by Mick and Damien, who went on to explain in depth the various aspects involved in the making and running of a Formula One car. What’s more, the contestants even got an opportunity to stretch their legs in those very Force India’s Formula One cars! They were then presented driving suits, shoes and gloves, customized to suit them.

With a relaxing adventure in the morning followed by the painting of a colorful dream in the evening, the contestants would sure be in the best of their spirits to bring the dream to life.


Please follow the following link to take a peak at the original post.

Lights, Camera, Action.

The final day the one from a billion wildcard round was far from a normal day. The day began for us with an 18 year old kid setting the track on fire with a blistering speed of 23.737. Karting since he was an 8 year old kid, Parth was oozing with experience and it was clearly showing in his time as he gained time with every completed lap. A first year B.Com student from Kohlapur, he is a formula 4 racer. What’s more he also happens to be the national champion for three continous years from 2008 to 2010. Being asked what it was that got him into racing, he says its his craze for speed. Growing up watching F1, he adds, “The more you watch, the more you get into it”.

 If we thought one was filling, we were greeted by Jehan who went on to cut through Arya’s timing, thus topping the charts for the 12-14 group. A Mumbaikar, standard 8 student, the current national champion, he clocked 23.962. Speaking to us, full of modesty, he says, “I am a good racer. But if somebody drives better, they can beat me.” Now that speaks for him, doesn’t it?
Adding to the list of people giving competition to the topper, was Yaseer Raza, a delightful person. Karting for the first time, having clocked 26.078, he says, “Win, or lose, I have no problem. I am happy that I got a chance to participate.” We then got to know his brother too participated in the one from a billion hunt, when due to the age constraints, he could not participate. However, a month ago when the wildcard round was announced he was glad he could now participate. With a bit of practice, we are sure he could go on to do well.
We had a young 7th grade kid who not only karted well but also made us wait for a while before we could have a word with him. So eager was he, that no sooner did he get out of the kart, than he dashed off to have a peak at his timing. Coming from Chennai, karting for over six months, Tapeshwar clocked a time of 24.356. We could see the disappointment on his face as he made his way back, and all we can say is, there is always a next time kid.
Next among the zealous was Dhruv. A motocross racers son, he began biking at a very young age and it then, when his uncle found recognised his talent, that he got into karting. He clocked a timing of 24.458, which unfortunately could not ensure him a spot in the finals.
Wrapping up the wildcard round, we had two new break-ins ensuring that the final day did indeed go on to play its part in living up to its name, the finale. The two toppers Jehan and Parth, having topped the charts in their respective groups, have ensured themselves a spot in the finals that is going to take place shortly. We take pleasure in congratulating the duo on their success and wish them luck for the finals. With more action coming our way, we are eagerly awaiting the finals. Until then, its OFAB, signing off.

Support or no, I am racing..

Letting an interest to travel down the path of professional career, has always been a debatable issue. Atleast from the parents’ angle, you would say. The parent-children battle, over the choice of career has had a very long history, with all possible permutations long dealt with. In recent times we have had various movies on the same. However its easier said than done, which brings us back to the parents’ view, in turn, the debate. On the other hand, there are parents who are very supportive, doing every little thing they can to support their child’s interest. Support or no support, we have talent pour in, which brings us back to day 2 of the wildcard round. The second day saw just one competitor for Arya in the form of Srinath. Hailing from Hyderabad, a standard 9 student, Srinath has been karting from the time he was in 7th. However, that didn’t seem to help him much as he failed to cut through Arya’s timing. If the other competitor, Shamir clocked a 35.27, Srinath came closer by clocking 27.8, which still was over three seconds from beating Arya.

On the other hand, Mohit, the topper in the 17-19 group, at the end of day one, faced quite some competition. First of them was Akshay from Ahmadabad, an automobile engineering student, he managed to clock a 24.637. Rinaldo, a Goan, who has been into karting for three to four years went on the track soon after. Speaking to us, he said his dad was ok with his karting, whereas his mom was not happy with it. On finding out he had clocked a 25.121, he looked very disappointed and said it was one of his worst performances.

Next on the list was Viklesh, a Hyderabadi, mechanical engineering student, who got into karting hardly a week ago. For a person with hardly any experience to clock a 26.44, definitely not bad, you would say. Following him, to go on the track were Taran and Ahmed, who managed to clock 26.375 and 25.783 respectively. Another mechanical engineering student, hailing from Delhi, Taran says his parents find the sport dangerous. However they have no objection to his participation, which is evident from his presence, but they ask him to be safe.

The last of the lot in the 17-19 group was Yamir, an NRI whose parents are from Bengaluru, looked to be a promising talent. Being into the racing field for a few years and having experience of being a rotax racer, the American drove professionally. However, the best of his efforts failed to get him qualified as he managed to clock a 24.39, losing the top spot by half a second.

At the end of day 2 however, both Arya and Mohit still remain unbeaten. By the look of it, the time set looks strong enough to make it through tomorrow as well. However, the possibility of a surprise break in can never be ruled out. What the final day has got in store for us, we can only wait and watch.

A short day with quickies

‘Wish I were a year older, wish I were a month younger, so on and so forth..’ These thoughts, and many more similar ones were answered to, when The One From A Billion hunt decided to bring out a wild card round. As per the initial hunting regulations set up, the One from a billion was to come from the age group of 14 to 17 which meant the 12 to 14 age group would fall off as a result of early cut-off and the 17 to 19 age group would get chopped due to a late cut-off. The wildcard round takes form to amend just that. Unlike other wildcards, which usually include a knocked out competitor making it back to the challenge, this one was different. A tweak in the age limit, ensuring the inclusion of the 12 to 14 as well as the 17 to 19 age group, by opening up a slot each in both the groups, thus making the number of finalists to a hundred.

However, as all good things come with a catch, so does this one. A catch that is more of a glitch, a rule put in to ensure fairness to the contestants already done with. The catch goes on to say that, in order to be selected, the contestant is required not only to be the topper in his/her group but also has to beat the timing set by the 14th best contestant at the track.

The avid followers would recall reading about a mention of yellow line which lead to a cave that was used by Neanderthals to decide who’d lead the tribe, by karting. The wildcard round happened to stumble upon the same cave to find that amongst the structures installed as a part of the hall of fame, various happened to now have their nose pierced. No kidding, a clean pierce.

The first day of the wildcard round was opened up by a young driver who couldn’t just control his eagerness to get going. Awaiting his turn, he could be seen pacing around the kart. What’s more he moved around so much that we were unable to get a stable image that included him. We are talking about Arya Gandhi, the first contestant not only for the wildcard round, but also for the 12 to 14 age group. The Mumbaikar looked confident and it was evident, when speaking to us he said he would be the guy that would get selected. On being asked about the time he had thought to have been set, his calmly replied, 23 flat! In spite of having clocked the second best timing for the day, overall, he missed his estimation by 1.33 sec, a nominal difference, the auditor would say.
The next contestant to heat the tracks was Vibhor Tyagi from Delhi, a commerce student, his interests lie in automobiles. He wishes to get into aviation, quickly adding that its unfortunately not possible. Contradicting interests, you can say. Unfortunately, he could not beat the time set by his predecessor.

The light of the day came in the form of Mohit Ahuja, who also happens to have set the fastest lap timing for the day. Another Mumbaikar, he is been racing since eleven years, participating in various national and international events. He left behind a clear signature by beating the fastest time for the day by 0.2 seconds.

At the end of day one, remaining unbeaten are Arya Gandhi, with the lap best of 24.331, in the age group 12-14 and Mohit Ahuja, with a lap best of 23.973. With the best times already being in league with the top brass, we can only expect more talent to pour in, in the following days.