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See how Indian Supercross Racing League is making inroads, one throttle at a time

The grand finale of the inaugural CEAT Indian Supercross Racing League panned out exactly how a summit showdown involving a symphony of revving motorbikes should have

Prabhjeet Singh Sethi Published 29.02.24, 03:06 PM

Sourced by the correspondent

On a day when news channels were busy heaping praise on Team India for decimating the Ben Stokes-led English side in Ranchi, a motorcycle racing league was busy making a point some 2,000 km away in Bangalore.

The grand finale of the inaugural CEAT Indian Supercross Racing League (ISRL) panned out exactly how a summit showdown involving a symphony of revving motorbikes should have. The audience in the stands stayed glued to the breakneck developments on an arduously curated, dusty, uneven racetrack while the stakeholders of all participating teams rallied behind their riders who sweated it out one lap after another.

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No one fell short of adrenaline in the high-tech city on February 25, the day which saw the successful completion of ISRL’s third leg. The first two legs were held in Pune and Ahmedabad. ISRL 2024 was clinched by home team BigRock Motosport, thanks to consistent contributions from star rider Matt Ross, who clinched the top spot in the 450cc international riders category. The 250cc international event was also dominated by the Bangalore-based outfit as Reid Taylor stood tall in top spot. Thanarat Penjan was the name that stood out in the the 250cc India Mix category.

What is Supercross?

For the uninitiated, supercross is an indoor dirt-bike racing sport, an improvised version of motocross. While the former is conducted in an indoor setting using dirt hauled into stadiums, the latter takes place on long courses and terrain offered by nature. Both the categories demand superior physical fitness from riders. A supercross track comes with tight turns, berms, bumps and tighter contests for pole positions.

To drive home the idea better, here’s an image that explains how the ISRL racing circuit looked like in Bangalore:

Sourced by the correspondent

The mental game

Sometimes, a technically stable, well-tuned bike is not enough to win a race. Riders also need to work on their body and mind. “Diet is important. In fact, diet is the most important part of a rider’s routine. One of our riders has chicken three times a day and consumes only fruits and Red Bull on race day,” said Vishal Joshi from Reise Motosport. Joshi then explained how supercross can prove to be harsh on the body in comparison to most outdoor sports. “As compared to running or swimming, you burn more when you are biking – this is primarily because of the constant mental and physical pressure,” Joshi added.

Wunderkind alert

In addition to the professional-level categories mentioned above, there was the 85cc race that grabbed eyeballs. Meant for beginners limbering up for the professional level, the race saw 13-year-old Brian Gyles from Gujarat Trailblazers clinch top spot. “I’ve been riding since the age of five. It’s been eight years now,” said Brian. This pretty much explains why he is head and shoulders above his contemporaries. Brian is in no mood to let his hair down after hogging the limelight in all the three legs of season one. “I will return for the second season whenever it happens and now I’m going to compete in Europe for the next six months,” he said.

Racing runs in Brian’s family. His father, Rick, said, “I used to race, his brother used to race, and then he started. So it’s in the blood you know.”

Brian is the first Asian kid to ensure a podium finish in a European Championship. “In the EMX races (motocross) last year, Brian finished third and was also 14th overall in 65cc category,” Rick said. Brian has usually been a motocross racer. “Unlike in motocross, which is more about speed, you have to be very precise in supercross racing. I’m proud that Brian has adapted well to this format and negotiated the terrain well. It’s just been five months that he has moved up to the 85cc category, and his bike control is pretty bang on,” he added.

Brian Gyles

Brian Gyles Sourced by the correspondent

History of Supercross

The birth of supercross goes back to 1972 in the United States. As the story goes, back then it was popularly referred to as the ‘Superbowl of Motocross’ because the event was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the stadium dedicated to the pro football tournament called Super Bowl. Supercross slowly snowballed into a popular spectacle after the American Motorcyclist Association’s endorsement in 1974. The pioneer of supercross racing was Mike Goodwin, a rock concert promoter, who first used a traditional motocross track to host events. But with the passage of time, positive developments happened and Goodwin took the sport to cities such as San Diego and Anaheim. Supercross -- usually considered an American version of motocross -- arrived in the US from Europe. The racing pattern scored brownie points over motocross only because fans were more comfortable being seated in an arena while watching a race instead of moving from one point to another throughout the motocross terrain. The first ever champion of a Supercross season was Pierre Karsmakers from the Netherlands, who won the 1974 season in the 250cc class.

Final tally

Sourced by the correspondent

The road ahead

ISRL’s progress has been appreciated so far, with six franchises throwing their hat in the ring in the first season. Going forward, the organisers have plans to widen the ambit and move the league to two more cities and probably add more legs to the competition. “The Grand Finale in Bangalore has exceeded our expectations and set the stage for an even more thrilling second season. We have set a new global record with the maximum physical representation anywhere in the world for a Supercross event. It gives me immense pleasure to see our collective dream to take shape in reality,” said Veer Patel, MD of Lilleria Group and co-founder of CEAT ISRL.

Here’s a video that can leave the bike freak in you thrilled:

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