Wild Week­end

Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport In­dia in­vited us to par­tic­i­pate in the first round of the 2017 Ameo Cup. Here is the race week­end from a driver’s per­spec­tive

Car India - - SPORT -

Last month I was at the Kari Mo­tor Speed­way, Coim­bat­ore, to ex­pe­ri­ence what it was like to drive a true-blue rac­ing car around the cir­cuit with a bunch of other jour­nal­ists. You can read my first im­pres­sions of the Ameo Cup car in the July is­sue of Car In­dia, where I write about let­ting loose the 205 PS and 320 Nm of torque that is pro­duced by the 1.8-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gine, and how the elec­tro­mag­netic ac­tu­a­tors, gov­erned by the shift pad­dles, slam each cog home with a gun­shot-like bang. If you have al­ready gone through our last is­sue and are up to date with the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the car, this month we share with you the ex­pe­ri­ence of ac­tu­ally spend­ing a week­end rac­ing the Ameo Cup race car at the Kari Mo­tor Speed­way.

I got to the track on Fri­day morn­ing and was im­me­di­ately mea­sured up for a com­plete rac­ing kit, in­clud­ing a fire-re­tar­dant suit, rac­ing boots, gloves, and a hel­met with a HANS (Head-AndNeck Sup­port) de­vice to pre­vent whiplash. I soon joined the 17 other rac­ers in the brief­ing room, where Sirish Vissa, the head of Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport In­dia, driver coach Ray­omand Bana­jee, and Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport In­dia’s de­vel­op­ment and test driver Karthik Tha­rani shared with us the dos, don’ts and what­ever else was ex­pected of us when rac­ing around the cir­cuit.

The next day we were sched­uled for two prac­tice ses­sions, so I headed back to the ho­tel to get a good night’s rest.

Satur­day morn­ing and we were back at the track, suited up and ready to get into our cars for the first prac­tice ses­sion of the week­end. We had 20 min­utes out on the track to learn the lines and get com­fort­able with the cars. I was al­lot­ted a black num­ber 20 car with spon­sor de­cals all around, red Car In­dia stick­ers, and my name and blood group em­bla­zoned on the rear win­dows. I sank into the low rac­ing seat, strapped in, and was soon waved clear of the pit­lane to start the ses­sion. I quickly came to grips with the fierce ac­cel­er­a­tion, sav­age brakes and heavy yet pre­cise steer­ing, and was soon lap­ping Kari Speed­way at a de­cent pace. Ex­pe­ri­enced racer Kar­min­der Singh, who was the run­ner-up in last year’s Vento Cup Cham­pi­onship, set the fastest time of the ses­sion at 1:09.006, while I man­aged a re­spectable 1:12.256, and fol­lowed that up with a 1:12.172 in the next ses­sion, mak­ing me the 12th fastest driver out there. Of course, these tim­ings did not mat­ter as much as the qual­i­fy­ing times that would de­ter­mine grid po­si­tion for the races on Sun­day.

Maybe, I let the pres­sure get to me or, maybe, I was just try­ing too hard, but the 15-minute qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion did not go very well for me. I found my­self mak­ing mis­takes ev­ery time I at­tempted to set a fast lap, and fi­nally qual­i­fied at P14, with a time of 1:12.871. I came back to the track on Sun­day de­ter­mined to re­deem my­self, and when the lights went out at the start­ing line, there was no look­ing back. I quickly col­lected a cou­ple of places in the first lap, out-brak­ing the cars ahead of me as we en­tered Kari’s tight chi­canes. I even had a mi­nor im­pact with an­other racer as we both fought for the same piece of tar­mac, but I was de­ter­mined not to lose a place. When the che­quered flag was fi­nally waved, I crossed the line in 10th, with a best lap of 1:12.054, boost­ing my con­fi­dence for race two.

The sec­ond race of the day saw me start at P10, and as the lights went out I rushed with the pack down the straight and im­me­di­ately picked up two places as I braked late for the fast first cor­ner. The rest of the 15 laps were spent try­ing to de­fend my po­si­tion, but a small mis­take be­tween the first two cor­ners cost me that hard­earned eighth po­si­tion, and I crossed the line in ninth, ex­actly mid­way through the field of 18 rac­ers. I had man­aged a b est time of 1:11.104 and, happy with this re­sult, rolled into the pits at the end of a fan­tas­tic race week­end.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.