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‘The Machine,’ as he is called, won both superformula races by a massive margin
The first Battle of the Cities GT sport race was held at Monza, and in attendance was every one of the regular participants, like Shameem Fahath, Aditya Raghav, Pradyumna Prakash, Aditya Bakshi, Ravikiran and Prateek Benya. As with the other Battle of the cities races, the six cities Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune were represented by two racers each, however while the other races involved a GTE race, this time the race was held with Superformula cars, specifically the Dallara SF19. And, there was the inclusion of a special guest, Hungarian professional e-racer Patrik Blazsan, from the Williams Esports racing team.
As always, the round consisted of two races. The grid position for the first 10-lap race was decided via a qualifying session, while the grid for the second race was decided by the finish places in the first race. As before, the pitstop strategy played a big part, as tyre wear had been set to four times, and fuel depletion to seven times the normal speed.
Considering his professional experience, it was no wonder Patrik Blazsan set the fastest qualifying time, almost two seconds quicker than Shameem Fahath, with Ravikiran and Dillon Zacharia making up the second row of the starting grid. The timings for the qualifying lap were as under:
As the lights went green, Patrik got an early start, with Shameem Fahath in second place.However, in the very first corner, many racers including Patrik ran wide, handing the lead over to Shameem. This also pushed Ravikiran to second place, while Patrik dropped to P9.
Soon, Shameem was fending off advances from Aditya Bakshi who was 2.225 seconds behind. Meanwhile Patrik in had already managed to climd to P4, and was 3.7 seconds from the leader. By third lap Patrik was in P2. Shameem was still in the lead, about 3 seconds ahead, while Ravikiran had gone up only one position. By the end of the lap, Bakshi was in third, while his Chennai teammate Dillion Zacharia was in fourth.
Come Lap 5 and Shameem went into the pits, giving Patrik the lead. Once back on track, Shameem was in second place and Bakshi in third. Meanwhile Prateek Benya got a slow down penalty. By Lap 8 when Patrik pitted, he had a 4-second lead over second placed Shammy. Down the grid, it was a fight for the flag (and fifth place) between Glen, Gaurav and Dillon. Meanwhile Prateek go another penalty, this time one second.
With 3 laps to go to the end, Patrik was first, followed by Shameem, and Bakshi. Glen was now in fourth place, after pushing Prateek Benya out of the way. In the penultimate lap, Glen and Prateek were back to battling it out for the fourth place. However considering Prateek still had a penalty of about 1 second, he needed to pull away a lot more to definitively hold on to his spot.
In the final lap, Glen and Prateek, being teammates, were doing a good job of hogging both the places and keeping away the competition. By now Prateek’s penalty was at 2 seconds.
Ultimately, it was Patrik Blazsan who took the win, with Shameem Fahath in second place and Aditya Bakshi rounding off the grid.
The reverse grid race had Aditya Raghav in the lead, but he was unable to get a start off the grid probably due to connection issues. The first corner again had a large number of racers, including front runners Aditya Patel, Gaurav and Kunal Vinod going off the track.
Due to the chaos, Prateek Benya was able to get ahead, relegating Aditya Patel to the second spot. However, Aditya Patel was soon able to get back ahead, but going out of track limits meant he was once again pushed back to ninth place, while Kunal Vinod briefly took the lead, before Aditya Bakshi was able to get ahead of him. Meanwhile, Patrik Blazsan was already in the third place.
By the end of the lap, Patrik was in second place and just three-tenths of a second behind Bakshi. Third place, meanwhile, was being hotly contested by Kunal Vinod, Ravikiran and Gaurav. Entering Lap 2, Patrik made his move on Bakshi, easily taking the lead. By the end of the lap, Patrik was 1.7 seconds ahead of Bakshi, with Ravikiran in third place.
By Lap 4, Ravi was slapped with a 1.8-second time penalty, and Glen had now caught up to fourth place, and made his move going into the third place.
The next lap had Patrik not only solidifying his lead, but setting yet another fastest lap. Meanwhile, the rest of the grid, all the way from Kunal Vinod (P2) to Glen (P9) came into the pits, giving him some more time to solidify his lead.
Lap 7, and Kunal was making up for lost time, while fending off Bakshi. Meanwhile Glen in P4, too, was trying to creep back up, while Ravikiran behind him was able to get the better of Prateek Benya. Back up the top, Kunal was now more than 11 seconds behind Patrik. Further down the grid, Aditya Patel was able to climb up to eighth place, despite missing qualifying for Race 1, ending up in the first row in race 2 and then being pushed off the racing line multiple times.
With three laps to go, Patrick had a commendable lead on Kunal, with Bakshi in third and Ravikiran in fourth, a gap one second between P2, P3 and P4, leaving final podiums positions wide open. For his part, Kunal was doing his best to keep Bakshi at bay. Additionally, now that he had got rid of his penalties, he was set on making up a sizeable lead as well. But going into Lap 10, and Bakshi was able to pull off a deft outside-line overtake, pushing Kunal to P3.
With only two laps to go, Bakshi was focussed on simply outrunning Kunal. Meanwhile, Dillon was up to fourth place. Patrik Blazson was now 18 seconds ahead of the pack, an amazing feat considering he climbed all the way up from the back of the grid. Interestingly, Bakshi went into the pits, pushing Kunal back into second place, with a 10-second lead over Ravikiran. However, the fact that Ravikiran now had a 4-second penalty meant Bakshi still had a shot at the third place.
Going into the final lap, Ravikiran was now in second place, with Bakshi in third and Kunal in fourth. Ultimately it was Patrik once again taking the win over 37 seconds ahead of Ravikiran, with Aditya Bakshi rounding off the podium.