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Sarath on a trailblazing journey in MotoGP

19-year-old Sarath Kumar is the first Indian in MotoGP

When Sarath Kumar visited the Irungattukottai track with his friends for a weekend getaway, little did the schoolboy know that the trip would change his career for good. Fell in love with the sound of the vrooming engines, Sarath started racing bikes as a hobby, but it swiftly became a way of life.

Within three years of emerging on the national scene, the 19-year-old from Chennai is now embarking on a trailblazing journey on a road where no other Indian has travelled before. Sarath will make his MotoGP (125cc) debut at the season-opening Qatar GP on Sunday (March 20).

The Indian youngster will be sharing the paddock with the likes of Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner, stars of premier category. “It’s been my dream,” said the business management student.

“When I decided that motorcycling would be my profession, I knew that the path was not going to be easy as in India there are not proper facilities in support of those who want to professionally pursue a motorcycling career. However passion and devotion overcome any obstacle and sooner or later, my life goal was to become a MotoGP rider. Thanks to the support of the fantastic people that believe in me,” he added.

MotoGP is the Formula One of two-wheeler racing. With cutting-edge technology with all major manufacturers in the fray, it has been entertaining the world audience for 62 years.

The eighteen-round series has three categories – MotoGP (800cc), Moto2 (600cc) and 125cc. Sarath is competing in the entry level 125cc class and ride prototype Aprilia RSW, representing WTR-Ten10 Racing which is a joint-venture of a technical team from San Marino and racing enthusiasts from Bangalore.

Sarath has been a proven performer in domestic racing. On his rookie season, he won the 2008 national championship in 130 cc 4-stroke novice class.

However, the demanding world of MotoGP has already given him a stark welcome. During the first free practice session under the flood lights of Losail Circuit, Sarath had to watch the action from the paddock for a majority of the session as his Aprilia bike encountered mechanical issues.

“I know it will be tough. I am up against some of the best riders in the world. It will be a year of experience for me in preparation for the next one; I have to learn as much as I can but I am also confident to be able to deliver good results in a couple of races time. I am proud to represent my country,” said the soft-spoken Sarath.

MotoGP will have one more Indian presence this year. Indian automobile giants Mahindra are fielding a two-bike team in the 125cc. But both the riders are foreigners (Danny Webb and Marcel Schrotter). It seems Anand Mahindra is taking a leaf out of Vijay Mallya’s F1 book!

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