Report: P.Tharyan, Photography:
While the T1 Prima Truck
Racing Championship may finally see Indian truck drivers racing at the Buddh
International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida in 2016, a similar truck racing
championship could also be held in South India. This was disclosed by Gopal
Madhavan, Chairman, Circuits Homologation, Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of
India (FMSCI). Madhavan is also the Founding member of the Madras Motor Sports
Club (MMSC). The T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship is organised by MMSC and is
being conducted under the aegis of FIA and FMSCI.
The T1 Prima Truck Racing
Championship race in 2015 saw only truck racing drivers from the UK
participating and the Season 2 race on March 15, 2015 will also be an
In an exclusive interview with
India at the BIC, Madhavan also hinted that truck racing championships
on the lines of the T1 Prima race is in the offing in south India. He said Tata Motors is expected to put a truck
racing simulator in place in the country which is planned to be run by MMSC. A truck race in South India could be held at the Irungattukottai race
track near Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu.
“We will start off with 200
odd players, and purely on psychological checks we would be able to knock off a
few. Not everyone is destined to be a racing driver. Their reaction time and
attitudes will be checked. Our idea is to get 20 to 25 drivers who would then
be trained with simulators first and then the trucks. All this will also depend
on how the Tatas want to get the Indian drivers in. We cannot continue to have
drivers from abroad racing here. Definitely, next year there will be a racing
for Indians. But before that we will have a shakedown kind of event in the
south, if we can do it. MMSC will most likely do this because the track is ours
and the largest number of people who are in the business of racing are in the
south,” he says.
Immediately after this year’s race
is over, the organisers will initiate the process of identifying Indian drivers
for truck racing. The process has already started, he said. The driver training programme will also be a
Tata Motors initiative which is planned to be run by MMSC. “We will take
drivers from all over the country. The drivers will come from fleet owners who
can nominate their best. Tatas want to
keep this in their group as much as possible. They have some very good drivers
in the factory itself. There are a lot of car rally racers who have got a
little old for the regular racing. They can also shift to truck racing. Vicky
Chandhok (former FMSCI President, current Vice President MMSC) himself can drive a truck,” says
Madhavan with a smile.
“The dynamics of truck racing
could change if other manufacturers also come in. If somebody builds faster
truck than this, then the Tatas will have to up the ante. I am pretty sure this
will happen. Tata Motors has definitely stolen a march over others by
introducing truck racing in India. They have certain benefitted. Others may
want to join the bandwagon. If that happens, then FMSCI will have categorised
classes for the race. We are in the process of writing all the regulations,” he
This year’s Tata T1 Prima
Truck Racing Championship will see six teams participating with a total of 12 Prima
world trucks at the BIC. The six teams are:
1) Team Castrol Vecton
2) Team Cummins
3) Team Tata Technologies Motorsports
4) Team Dealer Warriors
5) Team Dealers Daredevils
6) Team Allied Partners
In 2014, the country’s first
truck racing championship saw Stuart Oliver winning the debut championship. Season
2 will see the Tata Prima 4038.S with 370 bhp @ 2100 RPM and an increased top
speed of 130 Km/h over last years’ 110 Km/h. To make these Prima trucks fit for
racing, key modifications were made to meet a mix of safety and performance as
per the British Truck Racing Association guidelines. These included significant
changes in fuel tank, brake cooling system, propeller shaft guards, racing
seats and safety belts, exhaust, steering wheel among others. The trucks have
gone through multiple quality checks, with major testing being undertaken at
the BIC and Tata Motors Jamshedpur’s testing facility, for high speed run and
“When we started last year,
none of us had experience with trucks. We decided to leave the truck stock
standard and that we will not fiddle with the engine, gear box or the rear
axles and just try to make it as light as possible and as low as possible. The
whole concentration was on the safety aspects of the vehicle to make it
completely compatible with Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)and British Truck Racing Association (BTRA)
standards. We use BTRA standards because it is slightly easier to follow. From
that point of view we had to completely rebuild the trucks and remove what was
not necessary. We threw out a lot of unwanted parts and only the bare cab was
left. That is what we did last year. The steering geometry also was stock
standard. We did not change it all,” recalls Madhavan.
After the feedback he and his
team members got from Steve Horne, Organiser and Technical Advisor, BTRA and
other drivers, they decided to go one step higher. “The engine has limitations
because it is an engine built for load carrying. It is not a racing engine. It
does not have the characteristics of a racing engine. The gearbox is again a
standard gear box. It is an overdrive gearbox, not ideal for racing. One thing
we could do was the rear axle ratio. We have put in a much shallower rear axle
ratio which means that with every revolution of the engine, the rear wheels
spins a little faster. It is about 9pc faster than the previous ratio. We have
also taken out a lot more weight than we took out last year. A lot more springs
which were heavy we took it off. The fifth wheel coupling which was of heavy
steel one has been removed and replaced with a fibre glass dummy one. One
spring has been taken off in the front. We tried to minimise the weight as much
as possible,” he explains.
Madhavan also notes that
Indian truck racing is still in the very nascent stage as compared to the ones
held abroad. “More than just the speed, abroad in truck racing they have a
1000bhp truck. We are around 370bhp here for the moment. Besides, they are full
blown racing engines. MAN in Europe supplies racing engines for these truck
races abroad. The gear box is also a modified one abroad and they are not the
typical load carrying ones like in India.
Here it has got nine gears including a crawler gear. Here most of them
use third and fourth gear to start, not bothering to use first and second
gears. The overdrive gear box absorbs little bit more power than a direct gear
box. Here in India the drivers have taken a standard truck and modified it a
bit. Abroad, they build the truck around the engine,” he says.
Further he states that in
American truck racing the truck engine is in front. In Europe it is behind the
cab. “Here in India it is under the cab as the latter can be tilted. We had to
lock this cab. By moving the engine back we can set the cab straight on to the
long members directly. So the whole thing becomes lower. The weight
distribution is better because the weight of the engine gets shifted to the
back. This year we have tried to shift the weight as much back as possible. The
fuel tank has been shifted back, the water tanks have been shifted behind the
rear axle. The torque is so much that the rear wheel simply spins and that is
the reason why we want more weight at the rear wheel for more traction. There
was a 200 kg base at the back on which the trailer used to rest, that has been
removed,” he points out.
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