Interview: Karthik Tharani- speaks about the JK National Racing Championship, his racing academy and more...
Karthik Tharani participated in the recently concluded Round 1 of JK Tyre National Racing Championship 2018 and bagged 2 wins from 4 races. He was driving in the Formula JK Euro 18, the premier class of the series held at the Kari Motorsport Speedway in Coimbatore.
The last race of Round-1, the Race-4 started with the Chennai boy losing a couple of positions early in the race trying to overtake the pole sitter Yash Aradhya, after starting P2 on the grid. However, he stuck stick close to the top three cars until the very last lap, waiting for any opportunity. The race came to life just before the start of the penultimate lap with Tharani pulling off a stunning maneuver to overtake the three cars ahead of him, helping him secure the win on the back of some quick and clever thinking.
Apart from winning a multitude of races, Karthik has also been busy starting a racing academy along with his brother, Prashant Tharinisingh. Team Alchemy Performance Racing Academy caters to the Indian audience is hoping to take motorsport in the country to new heights.
The academy is based out of Chennai and has successfully brought new methods of training to youngsters in the country. Team Alchemy boasts of hosting simulators, and implementing data acquisition as well as telemetry to cater to the needs of the budding drivers. The technology is used by most modern Formula One drivers and would surely help in bridging the gap between Indians and their peers abroad.
Other than giving youngsters a taste for the world of racing, Karthik is also a road safety ambassador and encourages people to wear seatbelts as a part of a campaign by JK tyres and Star Health Insurance called Buckleupindia. He is also driving for Volkswagen Motorsport India in the Indian Touring Cars class.
Having qualified P2 in the first round of the JK Tyre championship, all the Indian driver had to do was get a good start off the line and that was exactly what he did. Once Karthik acquired the lead from the pole sitter, Nayan Chatterjee in the Race-1, it was smooth sailing for the former MRF F1600 champion. After the race, he spoke to Sportskeeda about his race, managing tyres in race situations, his racing academy and more...
Q1. How did your race go today?
Karthik: Really good, we put the car on P2 for quali [qualifying] so I knew the pace was there. Bit of a comeback for me because I couldn’t race last year, so this was, it felt a little new from the weekend so step by step I kind of worked on what I had to work [on] with myself and also dialing in the car for the race. But, in the race, it was all about the start and I got a very good launch off the line and I was able to pass Nayan. Then, after that, it was, I had a bit of a lead in the first lap and from there it was just about maintaining the pace. We also had to be a little careful on the tyres because we have about six tyres in total for four races so it’s not too much so we have to be delicate with them.
Q2. Six tyres for four races, too less?
Karthik: It’s not too less. It’s a bit of a challenge so it is part of a driver to understand how to conserve tyres as well. The tyres from JK have been fantastic, they have been really hooking up, really good. They have this one lap performance also but they are also lasting pretty good but you are always trying to conserve it. When you have a good enough lead you wanna maybe take it back a few steps and not lock up and not make a mistake and keep it fresh, as fresh as possible for the next races.
Q3. You are racing in the saloon car as well, with Volkswagen. How different is the driving style from the saloon cars to the Formula cars?
Karthik: Yeah, it is a bit of a change because with saloons it’s a lot heavier, it’s a front wheel drive and with the Formulas, it’s quite the opposite, you have a lot more grip, it’s very light. That’s why it took me Thursday and Friday to kind of dial down my enduring car style, but, you know, once you get in the groove you get in the groove. The pace difference was absolutely not there. It’s a different style but it’s very enjoyable. Both of them have their own unique aspects that you have to just work with and make maximize it.
Q4. You also have a racing school where you train racing drivers. Can you tell us more about it?
Karthik: It’s called Team Alchemy Performance Racing Academy. What I thought was I will introduce the concept of training people on simulators. It was aimed at the market for college students, or anyone who wants to enter motorsport. It’s vastly more viable than going to a conventional racing school. Not that I am not supportive of the normal racing schools. It is a very important step. Ultimately, you will have to get trained in the real school. But this could be a really good feeder for it, where we cover everything from basics of motorsport, what a racing line is, how do you brake and we cater to any car in any track. That’s the cool thing about simulation is that you can simulate any car in any track and we are also doing data acquisition and training with telemetry which not many people do in India. It’s very very intense and so far we’ve trained about 50 to 60 people and a couple of them have been racing in the Ameo Cup and some of the championships in India and they’re doing really good. It’s also very fulfilling as a racing driver to see that people you’ve trained are doing pretty good.
Q5. How much does it cost and how do people go about joining Alchemy Academy?
Karthik: You can check us out on Facebook as Team Alchemy Performance Racing Academy, we’re also on Instagram under the same name. It costs, right now, for introduction we are charging about ₹6500 per day for students and ₹8500 if you are a working professional. We’re still trying to reach out to all students because there’s a big market in Formula SAE (in which engineering students build their own Formula cars and race them), because me, being an engineer, I’ve seen the quality of the cars which is really going up, I have to say. But, you know, the drivers who have to give the feedback to develop the car is not per se, it’s not great because I’ve worked with a couple of teams and I know that they still have a long way to go. That’s why we are giving extra concession for students to welcome them to come in and see what it is, to understand racing from an engineer’s and a racing driver’s point of view. For the professionals, of course, it’s slightly different, according to them and it’s very very personalized.
Q6. Do you have Indian tracks on your simulator? Like Kari speedway, Madras Motor Sports Club [MMSC] or Buddh International?
Karthik: We have Buddh, at the moment. We are trying to simulate for Chennai [MMSC], but at the moment it is being a little difficult. Maybe in the future, we will be able to get track map of that.