New Delhi: Day 1 of races provided motorsport aficionados with a host of spectacular racing moments as six thrilling races kicked off the weekend at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida as part of the SIDVIN Festival of Speed today.
Action included Rounds 13 and 14 of the JK Racing Asia Series, the first crucial races of the LGB Formula 4, Indian Touring, and Indian Junior Touring Car championships that are all part of the final round of the 15th JK Tyre-FMSCI National Racing Championship, and the qualifying race for the final round of the JK Tyre-VW Polo R Cup.
Champion Indian drivers Akhil Khushlani and Aditya Patel, who have put in highly impressive performances in previous rounds of the JK Racing Asia Series, continued to show their class by grabbing one podium finish each in JK Racing Asia Series Rounds 13 and 14 respectively. While Akhil finished second in the first race, Aditya came third in the second event.
In the qualifiers of the JK Tyre-VW Polo R Cup, guest driver Jeffrey John Kruger (2:26.039) finished on pole followed by Avdumber Hede (2:27.562) and Ameya Walavalkar (2:28.066). The cup will witness its final clash for the grand trophy tomorrow.
Making the best from the opportunity, Sarosh Hataria, N. Leelakrishnan and Fahad Kutty claimed pole to flag victories in Race 1 of the LGB Formula 4, Indian Touring and Indian Junior Touring Cars Championships respectively.
The first highlight of Day 1 came in the form of Akhil Khushlani, who finished second (20:23.571) in Round 13 of the JK Racing Asia Series, just 0.188 seconds behind winner Aston Hare (20:23.383). Khushlani continued his good show and finished fourth even as Aditya Patel’s third place (20:20.363) in Round 14 came as the icing on the cake. Aston Hare closed the gap in the championship today when he claimed both race wins but Championship leader Nabil Jeffri was left with two troubled races with penalties.
Jeffri still leads the Championship but now with a marginal 12 points lead from Hare and while Ikhwan realistically put his chances at winning the Championship aside saying he just wants to win races this weekend.
Khushlani impressed in Round 13 and was leading the race for four laps before being overtaken by Hare on lap eight. “I had a good fight with quite a few drivers and enjoyed it but I hoped to have won it as I was quite quick up there in the mid segment but my tyres just started graining so I had lots of oversteer and I think Aston’s setup was much better. He finally caught up and we had a little bit of a moment but I didn’t want to overdrive and risk his Championship so I played it safe” he ended with a smile.
In Round 14, it was Patel who represented the country when he climbed on the podium in third. He spoke about the race during the interview and was happy with the challenge he faced during the race. “I think it was the first lap that changed everything because it was pretty tight between Akhil, Aidan and me. Akhil and Aidan went a little bit hot into the hairpin at turn four and left the door open and I got through. “Akhil caught me again, he passed me and I passed him again and from there on I was following Afiq and Nabil and I notice that Nabil had a drive through penalty. So I just kept my pace, I knew Aidan and Akhil were fighting in the back and I just took it from there” said Patel after the race. Aidan Wright impressed when he battled with Patel and Khushlani in both races. The Meritus.GP Rookie driver held his own to finish both races in fifth.
Three Meco Racing drivers completed Round 13 behind him with Visnu Prasad, Akhil Rabindra and Mexican Diego Duez in sixth to eighth respectively. Amer Beg of US Formula Project and Jeffri completed the top ten. Meanwhile Prasad, Jeffri, Duez, Rabindra and Malaysian Ashraff Dewal completed the top ten for Round 14.
In the first race of the LGB Formula 4 championship, Sarosh Hataria claimed a fantastic victory in a total time of 14:48.281 and with a top average speed of 124.98 kmph. Thanking his team Dark Don Racing, Hataria said that he was pleased with the results and felt great about getting an opportunity to race at the Buddh for a second time. Diljith TS, who has replaced championship leader and Dark Don Racing driver Ashwin Sundar, came second (14:48.745) but put in the fastest lap time (2:26.995) in the 5.14 km circuit. Chennai based Saran Vikram (14:57.804) finished third.
The popular Indian Touring Cars Championship witnessed Coimbatore racing and rally champion N Leelakrishnan (14:58.753) taking the honours with come stunning driving thus moving a step closer to a wrapping up a fantastic racing season. It may be recounted that Leelakrishnan made a memorable comeback to competitive racing and came in second during last year’s championship. “I’ve had ups and downs this season and am finishing second, which is really good. It feels great to finish on top on this track,” said the veteran driver after winning the race. Finishing second was gifted driver B. Balavijay (15:12.148), followed by V Ramnarayanan (15:14.839).
Cornering glory in the action packed first race of the Indian Junior Touring Cars Championship was the Mumbai based Fahad Kutty who has had a fantastic run this season. Kutty finished in a total time of 16:45.111 while championship leader S Feroze Khan finished 0.473 seconds behind (16:45.584). S Sreeram of Mega Racing finished third just over 2 seconds behind the winner. Team Game Over’s Kutty said, “I’ve had a decent run this season and it is a good feeling to be here and racing at the Buddh International Circuit.”
Day 2 of races, which will signal the conclusion of multiple racing championships, will kick start with the final race of the LGB Formula 4 championship scheduled to be held at 9.35 am (local time).