Mangalore April 27th 2008: C S Santosh stole the limelight as Team TVS Racing dominated the first round of the Gulf Cup Dirt Track Racing for two-wheelers, which attracted a record 177 entries, in Mangalore, on Sunday, April 27.
The Bangalore rider extracted the maximum from his well-prepared machine to win the glamour events for 260cc motorcycles. He won three races – both the Indian Expert classes for Indian motorcycles upto 260cc and one race in the Indian Expert Class for foreign motorcycles upto 260cc two & four stroke.
Despite the hot and humid conditions, a huge crowd turned up at the Mangala Exhibition grounds in anticipation of high action from some of the country’s best riders. With all the winners of last season’s Gulf National Dirt Track Racing present there was promise of a strong challenge. And, indeed, none of them belied expectations as they went through the motions on a specially-laid out serpentine course prepared by organizers Sportscraft.
The competition opened with the Indian Expert Class for modified foreign motorcycles upto 260cc. A bad start saw Santosh trail the eventual winner, Pradeep H K, right through and only manage fourth place, behind Arvind K P and Natraj, both TVS riders too. But he came back strongly in the second race of the category and left Pradeep and Natraj way behind in second and third place respectively. Santosh later also won both the Indian Expert Classes for modified Indian bikes upto 260cc, though he was challenged all the way by young Pramod Joshua of Yamaha and teammate Pradeep. His ability to strike a good balance on the hairpin bends and slushy arrears gave him the edge. His exploits made him richer by Rs 12,000/- and put in on top of the points table in the four-leg race, which culminates in the Gulf Clash of the Titans.
Yogesh Bharguje was another rider to catch the eye. Last season he gave indications of his prowess and carried it on to the first event of this year, emerging a handsome winner in both the races of the Private Expert Class for modified foreign motorcycles upto 260cc. Riding a Yamaha in the first race, he faced a stiff challenge from Eshan Lokhande (Honda), who had excelled in the final leg of the National Racing in Kolhapur last year, and Mumbai’s Rustom Patel, but stayed cool to finish first. In the second, astride a Honda, he proved too good for the field, finishing a good length ahead of Sarosh Mulla (Yamaha) and Gaurav Khatri (Suzuki). Amul Satpute, astride a Yamaha, showed he has it in him to climb up the ranks with a fine display in the Private Expert Class for unmodified bikes upto 260cc. He won the first race, finishing ahead of Abhishek Mishra and Javed Shaika respectively, but was forced to settle for third place in the second race of the category, which saw Rustom Patel take honours and Mishra finish second. While the seasoned riders, as expected turned in a scintillating display, it was heartening to watch some first timers, like Sudeep Kotegar, who came up with a fine display in the Novice class and also emerged the best local rider. He was always under pressure as he went around the serpentine course, but to his credit he did well to overcome a strong challenge from Adnan Ahmed and Sameer Choudhary, who were next best in that category.
With a narrow margin separating the top riders one can be sure of a battle royal in the next round in Pune on May 17 and 18.
In sum, it was a perfect outing for both participants and spectators. Sportscraft’s meticulousness saw the event, which commenced at 9.00 am conclude by 11:25 a.m., with none having anything to complain about. Maybe, that’s the reason for the record number of entries. The second round in Pune could well see even more riders take part.