Continental GT Cup: From the road to the circuit

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Royal Enfield, the champion of recreational riding, is entering track racing, which is perhaps the furthest removed from recreational riding.

Royal Enfield, famous for the recreational riding culture it has fostered over the years, has now embarked on track racing (one of the most competitive formats in motor racing, race on trail is furthest from recreational riding).

The company will host the 2021 Continental GT Cup this month. Presented by JK Tire Motorsport and hosted by the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, the GT Cup will debut at the 2021 JK National Racing Championship. It will feature four rounds – the first three will take place in October, November and December . at Kari Motor Speedway, Coimbatore, followed by the final in January 2022 at the Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida.

What led to the GT Cup?

Adrian Sellers, Manager and Head of Custom Program, Product Strategy and Industrial Design at Royal Enfield, told FE that the race track is the natural extension of the Continental GT, which is a cafe racer (a kind of motorcycle used for fast journeys over short distances).

“Two distinct but related activities led to the Continental GT Cup,” said Sellers. “One was Siddhartha Lal (MD of Eicher Motors Ltd) driving the Continental GT with our Head of Product Strategy Mark Wells and Aspi Bhathena (an automotive journalist) on the Isle of Man in 2019. In parallel, we started working with our Harris branch. Performance in UK on some racing bikes. These kind of led us to the exploration of the GT Cup. We are also involved in other forms of racing such as flat track and snow school, and the GT Cup is an extension of these activities as well. “

The pandemic, Sellers said, was used to develop the bike and all of the related items needed for the Continental GT Cup.

The motorbike

The Continental GT-R650 track has specially designed performance modifications. It benefits from a stiffer, race-friendly suspension for better handling at high speeds, lowered racing handlebars, rear footpegs, fairing, tailor-made exhaust pipe, 12% more power and has been lightened by 24 kg (keeping only the essentials required for the race). It runs on soft rubber racing tires from JK Tire.

The changes were minimalistic, but took a lot of time and effort. “Transforming a road-approved bike into a track machine can take as long as producing a new bike from scratch; you just have a different set of constraints and requirements, ”Sellers said.

While the changes don’t take a long time, it’s in tweaking them and testing them to their best performance that the real effort lies. “A mechanical change can happen in a month. Testing, tuning and redesign takes many more months, then producing dozens of these bikes, with exactly similar performance levels, takes even longer, ”he said.

Development of future products

For decades, many motorcycle companies have used the learning set developed from the race track to develop new products. Although Royal Enfield would not enter the sports bike sub-segment, members of the company’s R&D team will be present at these races.

“On a racetrack, the rider is the most important diagnostic tool, who can provide an unbiased opinion about the machine. If there are 20 different riders telling you how the bike performs on different race tracks and in hundreds of turns, you get a huge amount of data (which can be used for future product development), ”he said. said Sellers.

He added, however, that the goal of the Continental GT Cup is to help make track racing more accessible. “We want to open the race to more people, in a safe environment. We want to tell them that racing is not just about speed, but more competitive spirit. To enjoy an extraordinary racing experience, you don’t need a 200 horsepower super sport motorcycle; it’s all about you and the guy next to you and the guy next to him crossing the finish line seconds apart.

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