The 21st edition of the JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship took off to a brilliant start. We were at the Kari Motor Speedway, Coimbatore, to witness the action at close quarters
In customary fas hion, this season will also have four rounds of which three will take place at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore and the finale will be held at the Buddh International Circuit. On the cards are two classes: the supremely fast Euro JK 18 and the fiercely competitive LGB Formula 4. According to the new rules, from this season onwards, racers are not allowed to participate in both Euro JK 18 and LGB Formula 4 classes; a decision that enabled some of the lesser experienced racers to take their shot at glory. Another notable mention for the season was the addition of an all-women team in the LGB Formula 4 class.
Euro JK 18
The race weekend got under way with a thrilling qualifying session. The second runner-up from the previous year’s championship, Nayan S Chatterjee (Mumbai), set the fastest lap at 1:00.301 and claimed pole position. Behind him were Karthik Tharani S (Chennai) and Nirmal Uma Shankar (Chennai) in second and third places respectively. Unfortunately, Nayan was unable to take advantage of his stellar form. A lap into the race, he had to pull into the pits due to a mechanical failure. Meanwhile, Karthik placed himself at the front of the pack and drove to victory. Behind him, Nirmal and Manav Sharma (Faridabad) claimed second and third positions respectively. During the first few laps of the race, Yash Aradhya
(Bengaluru) was racing in second place, fighting with Karthik for the top step on the podium. A mistake saw him slip down the order and out of podium contention.
Race Two Due to a technical issue, the race had to be rescheduled for the following day. In a reverse-grid up to six positions based on the previous race result, Bryan Perera (Sri Lanka) started on pole, followed by Yash and Ashwin Datta (Chennai) in second and third positions respectively. A thrilling race ensued. Bryan drove with a cool head and won the race comfortably, but Nayan stole the show. Starting from 12th place, Nayan wasted no time in passing the other racers. His exemplary skill saw him gain 10 positions by the end of the race. He finished in second place, more than three seconds ahead of Ashwin. Race Three
Race one and two were 15 laps apiece; this one was restricted to 14. Bryan started on pole once again, ahead of Nayan and Ashwin in second and third respectively. In similar fashion to the previous race, Bryan did not ease off his position at the head of the pack. Although he did come under immense pressure from Nayan at times, Bryan emerged the victor and crossed the finish line almost two seconds ahead of Nayan. Ashwin claimed a lonely third place. Race Four
Although the sun was covered by black clouds that threatened imminent rain, officials decided to let the competitors race. A wise decision, because it turned out to be the most exciting race in its class over the weekend. Yash was the man on pole position ahead of Karthik and Nirmal respectively. After he jumped the start, though, he put up a valiant fight in order to make up for the time penalty that awaited him at the end of the race. Yash held his position at the fore for a major part of the race even as he faced heavy fire from Ashwin, Karthik, and Nayan. A mistake during the final few laps of the race sent him sliding down the order.
Karthik emerged victorious, leaving second and third places for Ashwin and Nayan respectively. The fastest lap in this class of races was set by Nayan at 1:00.257.
LGB Formula 4
Chittesh Mandody (Avalanche Racing) overcame Vishnu Prasad’s (MSport) challenge and secured pole position with a time of 1:10.654. Behind him on the grid were Vishnu and Sandeep Kumar A (Dark Don Racing). The defending champ, Chittesh, shot to a great start off the line which is, perhaps, why he managed to stay ahead of his rivals for a while. Going into the first corner, it was evident that there were four strong contenders for the top spot: Chittesh, Vishnu, Sandeep, and Raghul Rangasamy (MSport). Long after Raghul fell back, the other three were still going at it with all they had. Although he held the first place for a considerable part of the race, Chittesh ran out of luck because his machine failed him towards the end of the race. With the leader out of the way, Vishnu and Sandeep began pushing their limits even further and were engaged in a close battle that lasted all the way to the finish line.
Ultimately, Vishnu emerged the winner, a second ahead of Sandeep. Raghul finished in third place.
The second race began with Rupesh Sivakumar (MSport) at pole followed by A Bala Prasath (MSport) and Diljith T S (Avalanche Racing) respectively. A brilliant start by Rohit Khanna (Dark Don Racing) propelled him into the midst of the top three. By the end of the second lap, he had firmly established himself as the leader of the race. As Rohit streaked away at the front, Chittesh worked his way up into podium contention. He also brought Vishnu along with him and both of them pulled out all the stops trying to best the other.
Rohit finished with a comfortable victory while Chittesh and Vishnu claimed second and third places respectively. Race Three
Rohit Khanna was the man at pole position ahead of Chittesh and Vishnu respectively. Inclement weather forced the safety car on to the track. After four laps behind the safety car, the race was flagged off. A mistake saw Rohit tumble down the order and the fight continued among Chittesh, Vishnu, Sandeep, and Raghul. On the penultimate lap, Sandeep spun out at the first corner, ending his podium ambition. Raghul emerged victorious. He was followed by Chittesh and Vishnu in second and third places respectively.
The best lap in this class of races was set by Sandeep at 1:11.024. Among the rookies, Vibhav Parker (Goa) emerged as the top driver with 26 points to his credit.
Ahura Racing Début in LGB Formula 4
For the first time ever, an all-women team took part in the LGB Formula 4 class. Christened “Ahura Racing”, the team comprised six women: Hansuja C, Lea Daran, Manisha Kelkar, Megaa K S, Priyamvada Saradhi, and Dr Ritika Oberoi. These ladies won their places in the team from among over 60 women who participated in the talent hunt.
Ahura Racing is an initiative of three-time national racing champion, Sarosh Hataria. The team can be easily identified by their bright red cars, red uniforms, and, of course, the ladies at the wheel.
The first round of the championship was a great learning opportunity for them. Megaa K S made the most of the first round; she finished with the best result (among her team-members) in two races. All things considered, as rookies, they drove remarkably well and will serve as an inspiration for aspiring woman drivers. Furthermore, with everything they learned from their début, we expect these women to come back stronger in the second round.
( Below) Karthik blurs across the line as he zoomed to victory
( Left) Bryan hurtles down the main straight unchallenged
( Above) Karthik en route to his second victory of the weekend
( Right) Vishnu battles his closest rivals
( Left) Another commendable performance from Bryan
( Above) Car number one earns top spot
( Below) Raghul rolls out of pit lane towards a wellearned victory