After an amazing second outing at the 2019 #FestivalOfSpeed, we sat down with the 3 racers of our Team #xBhpRacing; Gurvinder Singh Matharu, Kalyani Potekar, and Simranjeet Singh aka Simran King. We asked them about their bikes, their preparation, and their opinions regarding this edition of the JK Tyre National Superbike Cup and also, their performance and results.
Know more about Team #xBhpRacing, here.
Gurvinder Singh Matharu
xBhp: You won the last year’s championship in the 1,000cc class but this year you are racing in the 600cc class. How different is it as an experience?
Gurvinder Singh Matharu: I have raced in both the classes and one thing that I can say for sure is that 600cc motorcycles are easier to ride than the 1,000cc ones. The main reasons for that are the lighter weight and lesser power of the 600cc bikes when compared to the litre-class superbikes.
xBhp: Your motorcycle, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is a new motorcycle and it is the first time you are racing on it. What are your initial thoughts and feelings about the bike?
Gurvinder Singh Matharu: As mentioned before, the characteristics of middleweight superbikes are less weight and manageable power. The Kawasaki ZX-6R is that and more. It is lightweight, nimble, and surprisingly, quite powerful for its class. In other words, it is a wonderful motorcycle to ride or race on and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
xBhp: What are the changes that you have made on your motorcycle?
Gurvinder Singh Matharu: The changes I made to the motorcycle are the race-regulars. A full-system exhaust to increase power and responsiveness and an aftermarket air filter. In addition to that, I had race fairings on it to reduce the weight even further and racing footpegs to improve the riding position.
xBhp: What do you think about the competition that you have on the grid this year?
Gurvinder Singh Matharu: It was very tough on the racetrack this year. We had a lot of young and extremely talented riders on the grid. I am glad that I was able to win a race and the overall championship. I was pushed to the 2nd position in Race 2 and the winner stood at the 3rd step of the podium in Race 1. It is amazing to see how quickly these young riders are improving.
xBhp: Anything special that you have done or have been doing this year when it comes to the preparation?
Gurvinder Singh Matharu: First and foremost, I have been taking care of myself. I have been busy keeping myself physically fit and in keeping a positive mindset. Apart from that, it is all about practice. I have been doing track days frequently in order to get used to the ZX-6R and honing my racecraft astride it.
xBhp: You have been racing in the JK Tyre Championship for quite a few years now. Do you see any changes in the Indian motorsport scene and the motorcycles on the grid in general?
Gurvinder Singh Matharu: There have been a lot of changes if you compare this year to the previous ones. There are more riders on the grid, quite a few, very young. So the talent on the grid has increased a lot. Then, we have more powerful bikes nowadays. All of that means more competition and more exciting races. So yes, I see some very good things happening in the future when it comes to motorsports in India.
xBhp: You are racing on your trusted Street Triple this year as well. How big of a help is it to race on the same bike?
Kalyani Potekar: Yes, being on the same bike gives you more confidence and rhythm. Last year I raced on this machine to get some racing experience in the 600cc category for the first time. But this year, I wanted to test the limits of the machine, and myself as well. I’m glad to say that with the same machine, I was able to cut down 2 seconds and beat my own record.
xBhp: What are the changes that your motorcycle has undergone for the race?
Kalyani Potekar: I tried a lot of things to make my motorcycle go fast like a faring to cut down the air drag and clip-ons, but none of them worked out. SSo the bike is stock like last year and no modifications have been done.
xBhp: How do you feel about your competitors this year?
Kalyani Potekar: Talking about the machines, I was racing against the mighty Kawasaki-6R, Triumph Street Triple RS 765, and the race-spec Daytonas which are more powerful when compared to my stock Street Triple 675. As far as the riders are concerned, it was a mixture of some amazing skills and sheer experience. I had a good fight.
xBhp: Have you made any changes to your training and practice to prepare for this year’s championship?
Yes, to prepare well, I moved to Noida so that I can be more regular on the track. I attended as many as track days I could. Training and workout remained the same. I was more focused on my abilities with my motorcycle and I’m happy with the results.
xBhp: Are you planning to graduate to the 1,000cc class in the near future?
Kalyani Potekar: Yes, of course. But just buying a litre class is not enough. To make it race-ready, there’s a need for proper and constant technical support. I hope with the help of brands and sponsors coming up it will be helpful in the near future.
Simranjeet Singh (Simran King)
xBhp: You were not able to race in the last year’s championship due to an injury. How has that affected your psyche?
Simran King: Crashes hurt you. Both, physically and psychologically. It keeps you away from riding and one of the key elements to riding well is riding often. So yes, the crash and the aftermath of it are both derogatory to one’s performance. Last year’s crash was a lesson for me. It took me months to get back on a motorcycle and it took even more to find my form.
xBhp: How have you managed the apprehensions from the crashes and injuries and yet, being back on the grid to race?
Simran King: The first thing that every racer has to accept is that crashing is a part of the game. If a racer has never crashed, they have never raced at their limits and tried to explore themselves beyond that. And the exploration of one’s limits is very important when you graduate to higher levels of racing. It was the same thing with me. I came to terms with the fact that I crashed in search of my limits and I had to overcome the fear and the pain to be able to race again and perform well. That is what being a champion is all about.
xBhp: What made you choose the Suzuki GSX-R1000R for the JK Tyre Championship?
Simran King: Firstly, Japanese bikes are generally more reliable. Second, the GSX-R1000R is a raw machine and it helped me in improving my riding skills a lot.
xBhp: Tell us a little about your bike and the changes that you have made for the race?
Simran King: My bike was completely stock when it comes to the engine and I changed nothing there. The changes were; suspension, to suit my riding style, bodywork, to make the motorcycle lighter, and racing footpegs for better body position.
xBhp: What are your thoughts about the competitors that you have on the grid this year?
Simran King: This year was probably the toughest as the competition on the grid was fierce. The motorcycles on the grid this year are very powerful and when combined with the skilled riders from all over India, they make for formidable competition. It was crazy fighting all those guys in the race. Also, it was a lot of fun and a learning experience for me.
xBhp: After last year, have you changed anything in your training routine in order to prepare for the championship?
Simran King: This year I have focused a lot on my own fitness. I have been working to increase both, my strength and endurance. I have been hitting the gym regularly to keep myself lean and fit.
xBhp: You have raced in and won the JK Tyre Championship before as well. How has the scenario changed compared to your previous outings when it comes to motorsports in India?
Simran King: As I said before, the competition is getting tougher with each passing year and that is a good thing for Indian motorsport. But more than anything I am really happy to see that more and more brands and manufacturers are coming on board to support good riders.