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KTM RC CUP 2023 Report: Nurturing India’s Racing Dreams

Modified On Apr 2, 2023 03:56 PM By Manaal Mahatme for KTM RC 390

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A lowdown on India’s largest racing championship and our experience participating in the media round

KTM – A brand that entered India just over a decade ago, revolutionised the affordable performance motorcycle segment. The brand wooed Indian enthusiasts with not just competitive pricing but with performance that we were unfamiliar with before. And going by its ‘Ready To Race’ motto, KTM hosted its first RC Cup in India – the largest racing championship held by a manufacturer here till date. Here’s a lowdown on the event:

THE FORMAT

Eight cities, 250 races and 1000+ riders made this event a grand affair. Qualifiers were held at go-kart tracks with 120+ racers in each city battling out to make it to top 10 riders from each city making it to the final qualifiers at Madras International Circuit. 

After a day’s training with ex-MotoGP racer Jeremy McWilliams, the top 80 contestants participated in another round of qualifiers, post which only the fastest 20 made it to the finals. With four reserve riders, 16 battled it out in three races for the ultimate treat — a training session in Austria, tickets to attend the MotoGP race at the Red Bull Ring and a visit to KTM Motohall for the top three racers.

THE BIKE

KTM’s choice of weapon for the entirety of the championship was the RC390 GP Edition in its stock avatar. Of course, to make it apt for the track, the mirrors, headlight, indicators, and other bits were removed. The only bits different from the street-going bike were the racing belly pan and the chain guard.

We already rode the latest iteration of the KTM RC390 extensively, on the track and even on the streets, and our review gives you an in-depth insight on the Austrian supersport.

THE EXPERIENCE

Along with the finals, KTM also held a media race for a select influencers and journalists. We were a part of the race, and got to experience KTM India’s flagship supersport. Two practice sessions, and one qualifier round to decide the grid position followed by a race ensured two days of proper race weekend experience.

The first practice session was led by Jeremy and Emmanuel Jebaraj of Gusto Racing, and it was a great learning experience, one that became quite an eye-opening session. It not just helped me improve my track mannerisms but also understand the discipline that motorsport commands.

Even though I had ridden the KTM RC390 at Bajaj’s test track in Pune, the experience of racing it at the MMRT was an eye-opener. The fast, and technical racing track proved to be the perfect playground for the bike. This Austrian supersport’s 373.2cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder’s 43PS for the long straights of the track, while the super sharp brakes ensured that the bike shedded speed as quickly as we prepared to throw the bike into corners.

The KTM RC390’s communicative chassis made cornering an entertaining affair. Going as hard as our skills allowed, or even when switching directions, the RC 390 never disappointed. What let it down was the H-rated Metzeler Sportec M5 tyres. While these are good enough for everyday use, on the track, they just fell short of keeping up with the brilliant chassis of the RC 390. Hopefully, the next iteration of the KTM RC Cup sorts this out.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR KTM?

This was the first time the company pulled off an event like this and it may not be the last. The KTM RC Cup was a great exercise for the brand to find new talent in the country and show the potential of its flagship supersport in India.

However, KTM India is yet to take a call on whether the RC Cup will be a yearly affair. Yes, customers and enthusiasts would definitely be waiting for the second season, but KTM has other plans before it goes ahead with the RC Cup Season 2.

Sumeet Narang, president of ProBiking (KTM and Husqvarna) confirmed that KTM is working on a rally format race for India, likely with the 390 Adventure. While he didn’t share details on how the company would go about this, it is expected to be similar to the format of the RC Cup, with smaller qualifiers rounds around the country, followed by a mega event. Now, KTM and rallying… doesn’t that sound tempting?

WHAT WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE

The KTM RC Cup was a great opportunity for the fastest 80 riders to train with an ex-MotoGP rider and even Gusto Racing’s Jebba. However, for the top three riders, journey ends after their trip to Austria. We would love to see KTM set up a racing academy here, and not just help Indian riders get faster and better racers, but also officially participate in the Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (INMRC). The sight of KTM India’s race-ready RC 390 going up against the TVS Apache RR 310 on the track would be a sight that’ll give everybody goosebumps.

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