Indian Sim Racing League: Kutti continues domination in round two of season three
Amith Kutti claimed a facile win in both races, with Sai Prithvi and Abdul Hadi taking the second spot in races one and two
After a successful round one at the Okayama International Circuit, round two of the Indian Sim Racing league moved to the 2007 version of the Daytona International Speedway. In round two, it will be interesting to see how the drivers are able to maintain the momentum of the first round, and if they are able to spring any surprises.
The Daytona International Speedway, the venue for this round of races, is a twelve-turn circuit with 5.72km of road course, and a lot of speed is a common practice at this track, especially as it is known for the speeds on its oval track. The slipstream may be a factor as the drivers go for the dive into the infield, past Corner 2 and head into the international horse shoe. One of the trickier things with the road course today is making sure traction is kept. Drivers had been informed of a chance of a safety car deploying, but at the same time were told not to depend on it. Another interesting facet of the 2007 edition of the circuit, unlike the current version, is the amount of bumps, specially in the oval and in some sectors within the infield.This is because the track had been resurfaced in the early 2010s.
Today’s race consists of 12 laps, with the champion driver getting a cash prize of Rs 15,000, along with a chance to test with a Volkswagen Motorsport racecar. Meanwhile, the runner up gets cash prize of Rs 10,000, along with a two-day training in 4-stroke karting from Rayomand Banajee and his team, as well as sponsored race in the upcoming season of the Indikarting Clash of Karts. The second runner-up gets Rs 5000 as well as a sponsored race, and Volkswagen Motorsport merchandise. Besides, the fourth and fifth-placed drivers now stand to win Rs 4000 and Rs 3000 cash prizes as well.
The drivers had four qualifying laps, a total of ten minutes to set their times. The drivers were putting in times between 1:44 and 1:46 minutes.
Sai Prithvi's time of 1:44.314 minutes was followed by previous round winner Amith Kutti who was just a tenth off his pace, and Abdul Fattah, who was about three-tenths off Kutti’s pace.
As the race started, Prithvi was not able to get a good enough launch, and fell a few places. Meanwhile Abdul Fatah slammed into the wall and lost most of the nose and front left suspension of his car. Amidst all the chaos, Tyagi was able to go up to the second spot.
Going into Lap 2, Kutti was in the lead, with a determined Prithvi running side-by-side, with Raymond Samervel in third position and Abdul Hadi in fourth, and the fifth position a fight between Rohit Raut and Prathamesh Yedre. This was the first time the drivers were seen battling using both the apron and the banking at Daytona.
With nine laps to go, Prithvi and Kutti were still neck and neck, with Prithvi trying every trick in the book to gain a lead. Meanwhile the group behind saw some battles (and almost some contact) of its own between Karan Kowshik and Kaushick Mohanraja for the seventh place, and Abdul Qadir and Oshan Kothadiya for the ninth place.
Approaching halfway on the clock, and Kutti was still able to fend off Prithvi’s advances, while the duo were approaching some lap traffic up ahead. Prathamesh Yedre, who had made a mistake in the initial stages of the race, was now inadvertently giving slipstream to the race leader. At the same time, there was a position change for P7 after Kaushik Mohanraja had a bit of oversteer coming out of the International Horseshoe (Corner 3), giving a clear way to Divyang Dodia.
With five laps to go, race leaders were making their way through Nascar 3 and 4 (on the oval). At 242kmph heading into Corner 1, Prithvi was still not able to stifle Kutti on the inside line, with both drivers leaving third-placed Samervel way out back, though in case of any contact between the two (as has become a common occurence) it would be Samervel who would emerge easily ahead, as he was a good 4 seconds ahead of Abdul Hadi.
Rohit Raut, though, deserves a special mention, considering he was able to gain four spots from his grid position, quite a feat on this swooping, open circuit. He did have one car closing in, though, with Abdul Azim trying desperately to hit a pace, despite the signs of damage on his front wing and side pod. At seventh spot, Dodia was still steadily pulling away from Karan Kowshik, who himself was under pressure from Abdul Qadir. However, Qadir soon made a mistake, dropping to the 11th position.
With four laps to go, Kutti was laying on heavy with the defensive lines. Prithvi was able to briefly take the higher entry, with the higher speed, before Kutti was able to outbrake him for Corner 1, again relegating him to the second spot.
A few places behind, Raut slid out of the fifth position, dropping to seventh but with no apparent damage to the car. This loss of pace gave Karan Kowshik a chance. Just up ahead, Dodhiya had now climbed to the sixth spot.
Coming to the final two laps: heading into the infield, Kutti and Prithvi were still fighting hard, with a hopeful Samervel keeping within range. Down the grid, Kothadiya, till now in eighth spot, spun out and ended up in eleventh spot, finally giving Kowshik the chance.
With a minute to go on the clock, the leaders were side-by-side on the tri-oval. Once again, Prithvi tried (and failed) to make the high side work, even going into a small slide right after Corner 2, costing him crucial few seconds in the race. Down the line, Raut tried to go on the inside of Dodia (P6), but slid off into the grass, his spin ending with a minor collision with Kowshik, who kept on going.
The race ended with Amith Kutti taking the lead on a 0.4-second gap on Sai Prithvi, with Raymond Samervel coming in third, Abdul Hadi coming in fourth and Abdul Azim coming in fifth.
This was the third straight victory for Kutti in season three of the Indian Sim Racing league.
A new feature for the third season of the ISRL is the second race of every round, which involves the grid positions of the top 12 racers being inverted, as well as the race itself having a rolling start.
Leading the grid for race two was Swaraj Yadav, followed by Abdul Raqeeb, Kaushick Mohanraja, Oshan Kothadiya, Abdul Qadir, Karan Kowshick, Divyang Dodia, Abdul Azim, Abdul Hadi and Raymond Samervel, with Sai Prithvi and Amith Kutti in the eleventh and twelfth place respectively. Mohanraja, however, started from the pitlane, as did Mudit Grover and Sunil Kukde. Like the first race, this one is also going to be a twelve-lap race.
As the flag dropped, Raqeeb tried to make a break for it, though Yadav held on to the preferred line, and the lead, going into the International Horseshoe, while Sunil Kukde spun out, as did Samervel, who had to take the fast repair.
Yadav still held onto the lead, with Qadir in the second spot and Kothadiya in third, while Raqeeb spun out in the top five. Kutti, meanwhile, avoided all this chaos and quickly moved into the fifth position. Prithvi was close by, and tried to pick up the pace, but a freak accident right after the horseshoe saw him break his suspension and right front tyre, putting him out of contention, a disastrous start to the second season’s champion. Kutti, meanwhile, was in the fourth spot, biding his time and chipping away at the gap between him and third-placed driver Kowshik. A bit behind him, Kaushick Mohanraja and Mudit Grover, who had both missed the starting grid, were already in the ninth and tenth position.
Going into Lap 3 and the fastest lap yet had been set by Abdul Qadir, a 1:45.5-minute time, while Kutti was already in the third position, having passed Kowshik. Meanwhile, Abdul Hadi, in fifth place, was also making his presence felt to Kowshik. At the back of the grid, newcomer Chewang Lama was already learning the ropes, and despite being in fourteenth place, was keeping Kothadiya at bay.
Up front, fourth-placed Kowshik seemed out of his groove, losing about 1.5 seconds per lap to Amith Kutti, the car in front, while Abdul Hadi was gaining a tenth a lap, and was closing in to the fourth place. Just outside slipstream range was another battle, between Raut and Yedre, for the sixth spot. With six laps to go, Kutti was within breathing distance of Qadir, before making his move going into the Bus Stop (Corner 9-10-11).
Still in the lead and despite being over a second ahead of the driver behind him, Yadav was now feeling the pressure from Kutti, who was consistently setting a lap time of 1:44.5 minutes. However, before he could bring out his defensive manoeuvres, Yadav ploughed right into a lap car, shattering his front and went on to contact (and take out) Qadir going into the Bus Stop, giving an easy pass to Kutti, but engaging quick repair before the rest of the grid could catch up.
Qadir, however, was not so lucky, his damage causing him to drop to seventh place, giving free reign to Prathamesh Yedre, Abdul Hadi, Karan Kowshick and Rohit Raut to zoom past. With five laps to go now, Kutti was in the lead, with Hadi in second place, 6.6 seconds behind, and Kowshik in third. One lap down, Yedre did try to rock the boat, with a daring inside pass on Kowshik, but backed off at the last moment just as they were entering the Bus Stop.
Down the line, the eight and ninth spot of Mudit Grover and Abdul Raqeeb was seeing some action, with Raqeeb trying to make an outside line pass, suitably rebuffed by Grover. Talking about slipstreaming, Yedre utilised the banking out of Nascar 4, sneaking past Hadi for the third position.
With two laps to go, the battle for fifth reopened with Raut spinning out, moving Grover and Raqeeb right by him. Soon, Azim too spun out, opening up sixth place. Meanwhile, Kaushik was in his own bubble hanging on to fourth.
The final lap saw Kutti in a league of his own, easily taking the win and setting a time ten seconds ahead of Hadi and thirteen seconds ahead of Yedre. This race win meant Kutti’s won all the races so far, giving him the ultimate dominance in the season.
Round three of the Indian Sim Racing League will take place on May 13 at the venue which was the finale of season 2, Weathertech Raceway in Laguna Seca, so watch this space!