This race was not simply about
“Make in India”, rather it was more about “Making an Indian”. For generations, the
trucking community in India has been exploited to the hilt. Underpaid, long
working hours, miserable working conditions and a crumbling infrastructure to
operate in, the job of a truck driver in India was far from glamorous. Of late,
with truck manufacturers launching modern trucks in the country and with fleet
operators providing a better deal to their drivers, their lives had begun to
improve a lot. Glamour, however, was a farfetched dream for them.
All this changed in 2016, with
Tata Motors hosting the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship Season 3 with Indian
drivers. For once, the popularity of the professional British drivers took a
back seat as the thousands of spectators at the Buddh International Circuit
(BIC) in Greater Noida rooted for the local boys as they raced their hearts out
in the massive Tata Motors trucks.
Former FMSCI President Vicky
Chandhok who is a prominent figure in the Indian motorsport arena, described
the journey of these Indian drivers as one from the “highway to the speedway”.
When Tata Motors announced
that it was keen to train and promote its truck drivers for the T1 race, not
many truck drivers were enthused. A few of them reluctantly joined in. Finally
after several months of training and several qualifying rounds, 12 of them were
shortlisted for the final race.
While 17 Indian racers participated
in the Level 4 of the first T1 Racer Program (TRP), only 12 Indian drivers were
selected to compete on the final day.
The T1 Racer programme (TRP)
was organised by Tata Motors for the very first time. The final 12 shortlisted
drivers competed for glory in Season 3 of the T1 Prima Truck Racing
Championship 2016 held at BIC on March 20, 2016.
Talking about the T1 race
Programme, Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Business Unit,
Tata Motors, said, “Trucking is vitally important to the nation’s economy and
the T1 Racer Programme has been designed to help put a name and face to the
men, who deliver essential commodities across the country every day. Since
inception in 2014, with the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship, we had made a
conscious decision to give Indian drivers an opportunity to be part of this
R. Ramakrishnan, Senior Vice
President, Product Strategy & Planning and Customer Value Creation, Commercial
Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors, said, “In season 1 we created history, by
hosting the very first truck race here in India. In season 2, we showcased race
trucks that were ‘Bigger, Better & Faster’. In season 3, Tata Motors is
unfolding a new chapter in the history of Indian trucking, with a theme of
‘India to the World’ involving Indian talent, and is all set to create history
yet again, in the one of the world largest commercial vehicle markets....”
The 12 Indian drivers selected
for Season 3 of the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship were –
Nagarjuna A, Bacchu Singh, Rabinder Yadav, Bhag Chand, Rajkumar Mahato,
Jitendra Singh, MD Parvez, Jagat Singh, Anand, Mohd. Iliyas, Malkeet Singh and Syed
The Tata trucks that were part
of the race had undergone several changes in the 2016 race. Some of these
changes included reduced centre of gravity by 100 mm, to improve dynamic
stability at high speeds, new lighter suspension system, to improve the ride
and handling characteristics, new improved shock absorbers, for stability
during high speed corner turns, improved brake cooling system with jet nozzles,
new lightweight aluminium fuel tank and water tanks, new tyres of 315/70 R 22.5
introduced in place of 315/80 R 22.5, from last season, among others.
THE FINAL DAY
On the final day Jagat Singh
of Mercurio Pallia Logistics and Nagarjuna A of Shekar Logistics created Indian
motorsports history when they won the maiden race T1 Prima Truck Racing
Championship, organised for Indian truck drivers. The Indian drivers competed
in the Super Class category comprising of some of the most experienced Indian
drivers. These drivers were selected through one of the most comprehensive
training and selection programmes, for Indian drivers, from Tata Motors fleet
customers’ operations across the country.
Trained by some of the best
race instructors in India, roped in by MOMA, over a period of three months, the
T1 Prima race saw the trucking heroes take home Rs 10 lakh. This amount was
awarded to each of the first place winners of the two Super Class category
who works with Supreme Auto Carrier and who was among those who managed a
podium finish told Motown India after the race, “We have learnt a lot here, our
trainers have taught us how to drive with cones using a smaller vehicle. They
showed us how to turn the vehicle through the obstacles. Then we were given
camper vehicles and then later the Prima trucks. As we improved, they removed
the cones. Later we were made to practise alone on the track and then all the
drivers were made to practise together on the track. So I am really happy
because we Anand feels that all the training will help him a lot in the coming
years. “The greatest lesson I have learnt here is that at almost every corner
and turn my vehicle used to spin out. Even today in the morning practise my
truck spun out, my coaches kept telling me how to tackle these turns but I was
relying more on my instinct and knowledge. I always think of doing something
new and even today I was trying something new on the track and then I spun out.
So I asked my coaches why this tends to happen. So he said that the tyres right
now are cold and are new tyres. That is why they are slipping and had the tyres
been warm then it would not slip. Now the first batch of drivers had already
practised and raced with these trucks so when I drove in the race the way I did
in the morning practise session the truck did not lose balance and that was
really good for me,” he pointed out after winning the race.
Like Anand, the other drivers
too were very grateful to their “Guruji” for the training imparted to them. The
skills will definitely come in handy while they go about doing their routine
driving across the length and breadth of the country. Racing is just one part
of the story; it’s the discipline they will nurture and treasure as they go
about doing their job behind the wheels of their load bearing Tata trucks.
Meanwhile, for the British
drivers, having finished fourth in the first 8-lap race of the two Pro Class
races comprising of international drivers, David Jenkins of Team Tata
Technologies took top honours in the final 20-lap race, with Rick Collett and
Graham Powell both from Team Tata Cummins, taking second and third place
respectively, in an action packed race.
Mat Summerfield of Team
Castrol Vecton, winner of the first 8-lap race, clocked the fastest lap of
1:50:691 seconds, in the second race, around the 3.1 kilometers race track.
While Season 3 witnessed
Indian drivers competing in black Prima race trucks, which were identical to
each other – in look and built, the 12 coloured trucks competing in the Pro
Class of the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship Season 3, represented six teams,
who participated in the previous two seasons of the championship, with one new
team – Tata Motors Finance. Following were the teams and their drivers –
Tata Technologies David
Jenkins Brian Burt
Castrol Matt Summerfield Adam Bint
Collett Graham Powell
Dealer Daredevils Ray
Coleman Simon Cole
Dealer Warriors Ben Horne Paul McCumisky
Tata Motors Finance Oly
Janes Tony Smith
Tata Motors also partnered
with some of the country’s leading automotive brands. They included 1. WABCO –
Official Braking Technology Partner, 2. JK Tyre – Official Tyre Partner, 3.
Castrol – Official Lubricant Partner, 4. Cummins – Official Engine Technology
Partner, 5. Tata Motors Finance – Official Commercial Vehicle Financing Partner,
6. Tata Technologies – Official Technology Partner
The T1 Prima Truck Racing
Championship is organised by MMSC (Madras Motor Sports Club) and is inscribed
on the calendars of FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) and FMSCI
(the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India) with safety and performance
standards being followed as per the guidelines of the BTRA (British Truck
Racing Association), who also play a role in the selection of the best British
and European Race Truck Drivers, that compete in the T1 Championship.
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