Pradyumna Prakash wins race 2 of the final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP
Pradyumna Prakash wins race 2 of the final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP|Ultimate E official
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Ravikiran Vissa, Pradyumna Prakash win the final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP

Both Indian racers scored pole-to-flag wins, and won hard-fought victories against equally skilled and determined opponents

Sudipto Chaudhury

The third and final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP started off with a race at a rain-soaked digital rendition of the famed Circuit de Spa Fracorchamps, France. The track, at 7km long and consisting of 20 technical as well as fast-flowing corners, and is no less daunting when dry. And, considering the damage setting had been switched on, the lashing rain only raised the overall difficulty levels.

As always, the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP was held on the Gran Turismo Racing platform, will all the cars being GR2 cars i.e. racecars based on those competing in the GT500 class in the SuperGT, running a fixed setup, with medium-soft tyres. Additionally, tyre wear was set to nine times quicker and fuel depletion eight times the normal speed as compared to a full-distance race. Race one was a nine-lap event, with a ten minute qualifying session, while the reverse-grid race two was a 16-lap event.

Qualification

Ravikiran Vissa qualified with a time of 2:20.822 putting him on pole, followed by Yevan David who was just 0.365 seconds behind him, with Sabry Salam in third place, seven-tenths off Ravikiran’s pace.

Race 1

As opposed to the previous races, race 1 of round 3 had a rolling start. Polesitter Ravikiran Vissa got a good push right off the bat. Down the grid, Riyaz Hafrath (P4) had Aditya Raghav all over him.

At the end of the Kemmel straight, Aditya Bakshi already had a 2-second lead over Yevan David, which he was able to stretch to over 4 seconds going into the chicane just before the start/finish straight. The battle, however, was more between Yevan and Sabry, with the P3 driver closing in to just over a second. Soon, however, Sabry made a mistake, causing him to drop to P5, behind Aditya Raghav.

By Lap 3, Riyaz had been able to climb to P3, and was 7.325 seconds behind the leader, and just under 3 seconds off P2 Yevan. Going into the La Source hairpin (Corner 1), Aditya Raghav almost seemed to pass him, before Riyaz was able to definitively get ahead, and then outbrake him at the end of the Kemmel straight to further ramp up his lead.

Aditya Raghav passes Riyaz Hafrath at Pouhon
Aditya Raghav passes Riyaz Hafrath at Pouhon Ultimate E Official

Raghav, however, was able to take the inside line (and with it P3) as he passed Riyaz at the Pouhon curve (Corner 12). Meanwhile at the back of the pack, Raees Uvaim spun out and dropped from P8 to P13. Raghav was now just over 2 seconds off P2 driver Yevan’s pace, though leader Ravikiran was a daunting 9 seconds ahead of him. Lap 4 and Yevan was the first driver to pit, followed by Riyaz and Sabry. This pushed Aditya Raghav to P2, while Aditya Bakshi and Prateek Benya, so far at P6 and P7 respectively, were able to momentarily get to P3 and P4.

Halfway into the race distance, and Yevan David, now with fresh tyres and enough fuel to last the race, looked poised to break out of P5. This would be an easy eventuality, considering the current top four (Ravikiran, Aditya Raghav, Aditya Bakshi and Prateek) had not yet pitted. When they did, however, it pushed Yevan to the lead for a moment (thus completing the proverbial circle), before Ravikiran was once again in the lead, closely followed by Aditya Raghav.

So now in P3, Yevan was followed once again by fellow Sri Lankan Riyaz, albeit a tidy 5 seconds behind (further exacerbated by a 2.6-second penalty). Now in the final third of the race, and Yevan, himself an experienced karter as well as e-racer, was doing his best to chip away at the lead Aditya Raghav had over him.

Raghav, however, was able to stay on blacktop throughout the wet race, and stretched his lead to 15 second. Hence, as the final lap rolled in, his best bet was to fend off any attackers and maintain his P3 spot. However, a chance mistake from Yevan saw him venture off track, pushing Riyaz Hafrath to the third spot.

Ultimately, it was Ravikiran Vissa who took the victory in the first race of the final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP, with Aditya Raghav coming in second and Riyaz Hafrath rounding off the podium.

Ravikiran Vissa wins race 1 of the final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP
Ravikiran Vissa wins race 1 of the final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP Ultimate E official

Yevan David crossed the line at P7, passed not only by fellow Sri Lankan racer Riyaz, but also Indian drivers Aditya Bakshi, Shameem Fahath and Prateek Benya.

Race 2

The second race, as always, was a full reverse grid with a rolling start. It was held at the Blue Moon Speedway – Infield A, a technical 3.35km GT fantasy racetrack with 10 corners, for a 16-lap distance. Thiyago Pereira was a wildcard entry for the second race, stepping in instead of Sabry Salam. Pradyumna Prakash was on pole this time around, followed by Sri Lanka’s Delvin Hindle and Raees Uvaim.

As the race went underway, Thiyago Pereira was able to climb a spot up from P5 in the very first corner, pushing down Viren Botejue. Back down the grid, Aditya Bakshi (P8) was already making his move on Huzeifa Jafferjee, who he was able to pass (via the inside line) on the banked Corner 9. With Bakshi ahead, Ravikiran Vissa was next in line, pushing Jafferjee down another spot to P9.

Back at the front, a moment of understeer from Delvin Hindle meant Raees was able to pick up the second spot, followed soon by Thiyago Pereira, which pushed Hindle down to P4. Meanwhile, Yevan David was came up to P5. Soon, Thiyago Pereira was able to get the best of Raees Uvaim, deftly passing him at the Corner 6 hairpin.

Thiyago Pereira just before passing Raees Uvaim at the Corner 6 hairpin
Thiyago Pereira just before passing Raees Uvaim at the Corner 6 hairpin Ultimate E Official

The next lap saw Periera now 3.718 seconds behind Prakash, while Raees was steadily cutting down on the gap, and approaching two-thirds of a second off Pereira’s pace. Down the pack, Viren Botejue had his hands full fending off Ravikiran, although it was Aditya Raghav who was able to momentarily pass him at the Corner 6 hairpin. Soon, however, Ravikiran was able to get ahead of Viren, while a mistaken contact between Aditya Raghav and Huzeifa Jafferjee saw Aditya drop out of the battle.

At the same time, Yevan David (P4), set a fastest lap time, his pace now bringing him that much closer to Raees Uvaim, who was relegated to P4 after a clean inside-line pass at the Corner 6 hairpin. But a split-second later, he was nudged into the grass by Uvaim, who regained his P3 spot. In the ensuing confusion, both Ravikiran and Huzeifa passed him. However, Yevan was able to hit his stride fairly quickly, which meant he caught up to and passed Huzeifa within the next few corners.

At the halfway mark, Huzeifa was the first driver heading to the pits. Pradyumna Prakash was still in the lead, followed by Thiyago Pereira and Raees Uvaim, all within a span of 8 seconds. The P2, P3 and P4 drivers, however, stepped into the pits in the next lap, pushing P5 Viren Botejue and P6 Aditya Bakshi to momentarily take the P2 and P3 spots. Soon, however, Bakshi was able to pass Pereira to clinch the third spot.

Leader Pradyumna finally entered the pits in Lap 10, and was able to rejoin the grid without a loss of position. Thiyago Pereira, meanwhile, was once again in P2, with Bakshi having dropped to P5. Enter the final fourth of the race, and Pereira was under attack from Shameem Fahath, who was himself fending off advances from Aditya Raghav. Another lap down, and Pereira was able to get to just under 3 seconds away from Shameem, who now had Raghav almosr breathing down his neck.

With two laps remaining, Raees Uvaim and Aditya Bakshi were involved in quite a bit of wheel-to-wheel action, before Ravikiran was able to pass Bakshi. Uvaim was, nevertheless, doing his best to hang onto the final podium spot, but was overtaken by Aditya Raghav in the penultimate lap at the Corner 8 right-hander.The final lap, however, saw Uvaim drop another spot, as Ravikiran passed him by in the Corner 4 right-hander.

Aditya Raghav passes Raees Uvaim to clinch P3
Aditya Raghav passes Raees Uvaim to clinch P3 Ultimate E Official

Ultimately, it was Pradyumna Prakash who took the win in the second race of the final round of the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP, with Sri Lanka’s Thiyago Pereira in second place and Aditya Raghav in third place.

This was Pradyumna’s first ever win in the Indo-Ceylon Virtual GP, and his first ever pole-to-flag win in his e-racing career.

Evo India
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