Already a renowned name in the motorcycle racing circuit at the National level, 27-year-old Satyanarayana Raju Nadimpalli, famously known as Sandeep Varma, adds another feather to his cap. The National Champion in the premium category in the Indian Motorcycle Racing Championship, Sandeep is all geared to take his racing plunge to the international level with the Qatar Championship by competing in the upcoming 2021 Qatar Championship in QSTK 600 category. The racer will, incidentally, also be the first Telugu and the only Indian in the championship.
Sandeep, the six-time national champion, is thrilled at the distinction. “This great news couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been waiting for this moment because nothing happened last year. Major events worldwide are slowly beginning to revive this year, so this news is definitely inspiring,” shares Sandeep, who’ll use a 600CC bike in the championship and is looking forward to competing with some of the best in the world.
Racing to inspire
Sandeep hopes that his participation in the championship will take the niche sport forward, encouraging more people to come into racing. “Earlier, I was the only National Champion from the Telugu speaking states, and I’d always wanted to break stereotypes of conventional sports, trying to make it big in a niche sport like motorcycling. Now with my participation in the Qatar Championship I hope the sport gets more recognition,” he adds.
The championship starts in the third week of September although Sandeep plans to leave for Qatar in a couple of days so that he can quarantine himself.
“Following the COVID-19 norms while participating in a championship is a first time experience for me. Competing in the new normal feels strange,” admits Sandeep, who also reveals that his preparation for most of the championships was affected by the lack of practice tracks in Hyderabad. For preparations, Sandeep had to go to either Chennai or Delhi.
“Unlike regular sports like cricket or badminton there is a lesser scope of finding grounds to practise in. And it’s expensive to frequently travel to Chennai or Delhi for practice,” states Sandeep, who even had to transport his bike via a container by road and then start practise in those cities during weekends.
In fact, there have also been a few occasions when he was short of match practise because he did not have the time to travel to Chennai or Delhi and practise, he tells us. “That’s a huge disadvantage but I have to live with it. Practically, it’s not always possible for me to travel to other cities and practise. So sometimes during the championships while riding, I’d figure I was short of practice as my body would be stiff and unready,” he explains, although that has not dampened his spirits.
pains and pleasures of racing
Having worked with a retailing giant for three years, Sandeep quit his job a few years back to focus more on racing. “I started travelling and became a YouTuber,” he says. Today, he reveals that his growing subscriber base on the YouTube channel keeps him on his toes.
Since 2016 Sandeep has been part of several races and won a few championships too. Describing racing as his only happiness, he says that he has been fascinated with the sport since childhood.
“Racing is everything to me. From being an introvert the sport transformed me into an extremely positive guy. Moreover, I could see and experience life while travelling to various parts of the country,” says the racer who represents Gusto team while playing the National Championship.
But not everything has been hunky dory for the Hyderabad racer. While he has been injured, having damaged his collarbone in 2019, in the early 2020 during a championship, his motorcycle engine failed midway causing him to lose those major titles. Then, COVID-19 brought the rest of the year to a standstill.
“It was all a nightmare and mentally very depressing,” he recollects.
“So it was tough overcoming all these thoughts, but thankfully, championships are now open. Moreover, I even got a match practise.” Sandeep has a few friends who are also into motorcycle racing. It helps, too, because the community constantly discusses racing strategies and nuances of the sport. While he exudes confidence that the sports will slowly but surely strike a chord with more people in times to come, he surely credits the role of his parents and Coach Emmanuel Jebaraj (a former Motorcycle National Champion) for having enabled his journey.