Mumbai: He’s young, he’s shy and drives only a scooter on the road. But his fastest speed on the racing track is between 240-250 kmph.
18-year-old Sarath Kumar, just into his third season on the track, is all set to make history by becoming the first Indian to participate in the 125cc World Championship, 2011.
The Chennai-based rider is among the two to represent Bangalore’s Ten 10 Racing, which, after its three-year strategic tie-up with WTR Team Italy, is set to become the first Indian team to be part of the Moto GP.
“I’m very happy because I am doing something which no Indian rider has done before. At the same time, I am taking it just like any other race,” Kumar told reporters here to announce Ten 10 Racing’s partnership with WTR.
“Moto GP is a challenge. I didn’t expect to reach there so soon,” he added.
Kumar, who represented India in the UAM Asia Cup in Japan in September, denied having any nerves before his debut on the big stage. “If a batsman is afraid of the ball, he cannot bat in cricket. It is the same with us,” he said.
“The first year I’ll look for the experience. I would like to perform well from the second year on,” he added.
Kumar, a BBA student from the Madras University, developed an interest for the sport after he went to watch races along with his friends.
However, he began practising without the approval of his mother, a beautician and the sole bread earner in the family.
“I started out with the aim of achieving something in the sport,” said Kumar.
Kumar’s talent was further honed by family friend and Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) rider Krishnan Rajni, who is one of his idols along with seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi.
The hardwork paid off after he was signed by Ten 10 Racing last year, relieving him off the financial burden, which was anywhere between Rs 4,000-5,000 per weekend of training.
“Sarath was an obvious choice, first for his age, others are quite old. Besides, its his talent - he is way ahead of others,” said team principal Ramji Govindarajan.
“He has the eye for those small technical details, which other motorcyclists easily overlook,” he said.
Commenting on the association, Govindrajan said the partnership between Ten 10 Racing and WTR team aims to collaborate technically for international and Indian racing.
“We are also aiming to create an all Indian team by 2014, which will be recognised as among the best in the MotoGP circuit,” he said.