Have you ever wondered how professional motorsport riders made it to the sport and how much it would have cost families to get their children to the top of the game? Does being rich really make a difference in the world of motorsport and are all riders from wealthy families?

Most of them come from well-off households while some from merely average backgrounds. The wealth of the families varies significantly. Some begin from humbler settings and needed greater external support and sponsorship in the hope that their hard work pays off.

Some parents take up loans to have their kids making a presence in the scene of motorsports and some came from families who worked extremely hard to make their children’s dream a reality – MotoGP riders like Jorge Martin or the more recent name like Pedro Acosta (whose father was a fisherman).

It wasn’t an easy path for 21-year-old Senthil Kumar either who was born in Coimbatore, a city situated in the Southern India to parents who owned a grocery shop. As a teen, Senthil made his way into the National Championship, one of the main feeder series for a professional motorcycle career in India.

“I started racing at the age of 14. I would say it is a little late to enter the two wheels arena but it was worth the risk and try. I fell in love with this sport because of my brother. He was the first in the family to have ventured into this scene, professionally and proved that there is a future with it. So, my first race was in some of the local races and then to the National Championship, competing in
the junior category.”

“My brother is not just an inspiration to me but he is also my biggest support system with my career. If he has not invested in my dreams, I wouldn’t be racing in the Asian level right now instead I would have ended on the streets of Coimbatore. I am forever grateful to this wonderful man who made it a possible for me to take a deeper look into the career of motorsports.”

“Basically, I’m from an impoverished family. My dad owns a tiny grocery shop in India and my mother is a home maker. Initially, we could not afford the expenses that entails a rider’s entry into the racing world. Nevertheless, my brother kept pushing me to work on my dreams. He also looked into the financial aspects of the industry and paid for me with his hard-earned money until I was selected by Honda,” expressed Senthil.

As a result of his success in several local races, Senthil earned a place in the Thailand Talent Cup and Honda Idemitsu Talent Cup with Honda. He was only 18 then. Despite being a debutante, he made it to the podium with a phenomenal expression of passion throughout the race.

Boom! In 2019, the Coimbatore rider made his entrance into the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship!

“My ARRC debut was in 2019 where I competed in the AP250 race category. It is my favourite category and my first hence a great learning curve. Not to mention the thrill that comes with riding among some of the best in the category – highly experienced and competitive riders. Some of them have even been to the World Championship before. It was tough in the beginning, getting used to different circuit layouts with its challenging turns but what matters most is learning something valuable and pertinent in each round.”

“Then came the two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic and a very unexpected twist to it which took away the chances of further improving. This year has been tough and rough. We struggled a little with the machine but managed to overcome it. It does seem like we are becoming better. My team is putting in all their efforts to bring out the best in terms of the machine’s capacities.”

Commenting about his season thus far, Senthil said, “If you told me at the beginning of the season that there is a certain kind of expectation in terms of riders’ ability and the results that I would obtain, I would not have believed it. But as the going gets tough and as riders get better, you will always want more and be on par with the better troop. At the end of the day, you just want to achieve the feel of being at the top, right? So, I am never happy with my race. I never will!”

“I mean, there has been races that I have been really happy with like the first round in Buriram. So, every race that I finish, there is something more to do and a better result to achieve.”

Senthil is not one to be easily shaken down. He believes in hard work – both from his team and himself has put in this season. Hard work always pays off.

Like every other rider, Senthil does have his long-term dreams that he hopes to achieve some day. “My dream is to embark on the footsteps of my hero, Marc Marquez and to be the champion in MotoGP. I love his attitude and charisma on/off circuit.”