The words ‘National Champion’ in the world of motorcycle racing is more than just hype. It takes hours of saddle time, blood, sweat, broken bones and, not to mention, significant financial investment and a whole lot of team spirit to get to the championship silverware or anywhere near it. Now imagine seven, yes seven consecutive Indian National Motorcycle Championship wins by the same rider and for the same team. That’s TVS Racing’s Jagan Kumar on a winning streak.
Going back to 2006, before TVS Racing happened, Jagan witnessed a few motorcycles going full tilt at the MMRT. Fascinated, he immediately saw himself doing all that and better. Racing being a super expensive sport, Jagan had to find a source of income to enter the races as a privateer. With earnings from his newspaper delivery job, Jagan had to manage his whole race weekend. Everything including the logistics, mechanics and the race itself. But he mentions that when he was behind those handlebars, gripping the tank, everything else for him was just a blur.
The first stint on a second-hand TVS Victor
His first stint on track was during a one-make series in 2007, on a second hand TVS Victor of his own. In only his first season he landed atop the podium. 2009 is when he got his big break. The headhunters at TVS Racing saw his potential and signed him up for their road racing team, and with their unceasing support, he’s been reeling in the silverware ever since. With all that skill focused in the right direction, he has won every championship he has participated in, starting from his second season in the Premium 165cc class in 2011. With a total of 88 points on the leaderboard, he added another win in the 2012 season, along with his team winning the manufacturer and team championship. TVS Racing as a team has made tremendous progress on the circuit. During the 2017 championship when teammate KY Ahmed took third place for the team, Jagan came out on top, almost 5 seconds ahead of Honda Ten10’s Rajiv Sethu.
He is the only Indian to race in the ARRC held in Indonesia in 2015 and 2016. The list of wins goes on, with the latest being a few weeks back at INMRC 2018. “This would not have been possible without the team’s constant support and continuous development, of my skill and the performance of the bike”. What a sight it is to watch Jagan shoot ahead, past other riders on the circuit.
With all these podiums, Jagan proved that he is an ace on small capacity race bikes, but are there plans of climbing the ladder, moving to bigger and faster bikes? “Being the fastest isn’t enough, its all about consistency” he says. Being humble to the team that has nurtured your talent does not mean he is afraid of new heights. TVS Racing has always given utmost support to all their riders, and it shows, on the leaderboard in the form of championship trophies.
The TVS commercials always have a proud mention of Jagan’s achievements with TVS Racing and the engine that powers the Apache RTR 160, derived from his race-winning machine. All that knowledge and input gained from racing clearly reflects onto their production bikes. His competition and teammates are what drive Jagan to prepare both his machine and himself for the championship. There is no pressure from the team for a championship win, but the hard work that the crew has put in, and the glimmer in their eyes, is what gives our champ the confidence to push the boundaries and achieve victory.
Jagan’s view on budding athletes
“There are many aspiring racers and many racing schools. I meet many budding racers during OMC’s and see immense talent in them. There is a need for a lot of patience as there are no shortcuts to success. It takes a lot of time, hard work and many sacrifices to reach the podium.”
The next step, where does the road lead?
“For the next racing season, I leave the final decision to the TVS Racing team management that has shaped my career so far. While I will continue to race, I will also look to mentor young racing talent with all the experience I have.”
Words by Hari Kudchadkar