Chennai, Aug 16 : The MRF MMSC-FMSCI Indian National Car Racing Championship enters a critical phase as the stage is set for the fourth and penultimate round at the MMRT here on Saturday, as the battle for points among the drivers escalate.
Incidentally, international Aditya Patel of Chennai is set to make his saloon car debut in the championship and will be racing at this track after a gap of 11 years.
With the front-runners in the championship stakes tightly bunched in all the categories that will be on view over the next two days, the premier MRF Formula 1600, Indian Touring Cars, Super Stock and Volkswagen Ameo Class, the expectations of exciting and close racing was high.
In the previous rounds, winner-picking was a hazardous guess and it would be same this weekend with a clutch of India’s top racing drivers, ranging from bubbling teenagers to seasoned veterans, lining up on the grid, each seeking precious championship points.The MRF F1600, with four races scheduled over two days and a
maximum of 100 points on offer, has four drivers, Nayan Chatterjee (Mumbai, 63 points), Chennai’s Vishnu Prasad (58), Bengaluru teenager Sohil Shah (56) with two wins from four starts and A Bala Prasath from Coimbatore (43), heading the leaderboard, but wary of others who have them in their sights.
The popular Indian Touring Cars category, a triple-header for this round, has developed into a bitter fight involving veteran Coimbatore racer Arjun Balu (80 points), driving a Race Concepts-prepared Honda Vtec car, and championship leader Chennai’s Karthik Tharani (86) in a factory supported Volkswagen Vento.
However, Tharani, winner in two of the five outings and serving a one race suspension, is sitting out this round.
Tharani is replaced by Aditya Patel, the 2007 Formula Rolon champion, who has been a participant in various international touring car series abroad (VW, Audi, GT Asia) in the past decade.
“Obviously, I am quite excited to be racing at the MMRT, virtually my home circuit, after over a decade (his last outing was in 2008, a one off race)'', Aditya said.
''Interestingly, my Formula Rolon car in 2007 when I won the championship for NK Racing, was prepared by Arjun Balu and his brother Sanjay. So, it’s quite extraordinary that this weekend, I am racing against Arjun”, he said.The Super Stock category, to be run on a combined grid with the ITC class, presents a similar picture with Bengaluru’s Rithvik Thomas (Race Concepts) leading RP Raja Rajan (Performance Racing) from Chennai by eight points. The pair has won three races apiece and with three more to be run this weekend, a thrilling battle between the two is on the cards.
The VW Ameo Class, which was upgraded to National Championship status and boasting of 18-car grid, has three drivers, Pratik Sonawane (Pune), Jeet Jhabakh (Hyderabad) and Saurav Bandyopadhyay (Mumbai), in that order separated by eight points with Delhi’s Anmol Singh Sahil in fourth, a further nine points behind.(UNI)