From clubs to championships: Padhmini Mohan Nair Soorya’s journey to international racing

Chennai’s racing star Padhmini Mohan Nair Soorya is a track legend as his natural gift for acing the circuit comes in handy while participating in both national and international racing
In frame: Padhmini Mohan Nair Soorya
In frame: Padhmini Mohan Nair Soorya

Padhmini Mohan Nair Soorya is today a track legend, though he started racing only at the age of 23, and that too because his friends convinced him to! Indulge talks to the budding champion, understanding his passion for motorcycling and how he came to be chosen for a major oil company’s international training programme.

Excerpts:

Did you always plan to be a professional motorcycle racer?

I was always fascinated by motorcycles and was a keen rider. Initially, I had joined quite a few clubs and was doing regular stuff like riding and chilling or going touring with a group of like-minded friends. And then one day, I came to the track at MMRT, and I loved it, and knew that this was what I wanted to do.

In frame: Padhmini Mohan Nair Soorya
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How did the Castrol POWER1 Challenge selection happen?

 I saw their advertisement on Instagram, and a close friend encouraged me to sign up. The programme sounded exciting, with finalists being taken to Europe to train with the LCR Honda team. I saw this as a good opportunity to both showcase my skills, and at the same time, hone them better under the guidance of experts. I am also proud of the fact that they initially had over 10,000 applicants, out of whom 250-300 qualified, and 80 were shortlisted in Coimbatore. Finally, three were selected, and I am proud to say that I stood third in the overall championship. I am excited about going to Europe for further training.

What are your expectations with this training?

As I mentioned before, the Castrol Honda LCR MotoGP team, based out of Europe, is one of the premier teams out there. The idea is to get proper motivation and training. This is very important because you must realise that, as a nation, we are lagging behind in some aspects of motorsports, like bike racing. In other Asian countries like Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, there is a lot of government support, including sponsorships, because money is the major limiting factor here. Whether it is prepping bikes, getting parts, and almost any other R&D process, is hugely expensive. Plus, in many countries, kids start training for track racing at four years of age and hence come to racing with a huge advantage. At this time, European riders can be quicker than us by 2-3 seconds. Hence, the importance of this training and motivation.

What is your ambition?

 My main goal  is to go international. I do believe that I have the talent to ride well, and with a bit of proper training and guidance, I can surely make my country proud. I would like to show my skills and capabilities, and prove what I can do. I would of course, have loved to do a MotoGP, But even then, I do understand that age is not on my side, but even then I know I am a good rider and can take the podium in many international races and put India on the top steps of racing. I have had many podium finishes in my current racing in India. Getting podium finishes is a way to get sponsorship and funding, and this could be the pathway to success. My podium finish and subsequent selection for Castrol POWER1 is surely a dream come true, and I would like to thank Castrol India for this.

In frame: Padhmini Mohan Nair Soorya
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Any message for aspiring riders?

Yes. I would like to say that if you are passionate, do not race on public roads. Go to the track, always wear protective gear, and prove your worth. Today, things are different. If you are really good and show talent, you will surely be picked up and trained from there on, and the opportunities are immense. Everything will be taken care of, but please do not race on the road.

Mail: ranojoy@newindianexpress.com

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