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Saurav Bandopadhyay, Jeet Jhabakh and Pratik Sonawane register a win each in the third round
The weather at the Madras Motor Race Track was dubious as the dark clouds and heavy rain made it highly unsafe for the race cars. After careful evaluation of the track and the forecast, the authorities decided to postpone the morning races, with the first race starting post-lunch. The free practice and qualifying sessions were cut down to accommodate the races before track closure(5:00pm). Due to lack of time, the Indian Touring Car (Saloon cars) race was pushed to Sunday, while the MRF F1600s and the Ameos had one race each.
Ameo Class – Round 3:
It was only by afternoon that the weather gods showed signs of mercy and the Ameo race cars were able to head out for their free practice and qualifying sessions. The big challenge was a still-drying track and water logging on certain parts of the track. Saurav Bandyopadhyay who was second in the championship behind Pratik Sonawane after round two, set the fastest time in the round three qualifying session. Saurav set a 1min 54.357sec lap time putting him on pole for the first race while Shubhomoy Ball started in P2. Ayush Tainwala and Siddharth Mehdirata started in the second row.
While Saurav got off to a brilliant start, Shubhomoy gave his best to keep up. Saurav managed to retain the lead, fending off Shubhomoy coming out of turn one. Pune’s Pratik who started P5, made up two places to slot in behind Shubhomoy in third. The trio held their positions till the end of the race and finished in the same order.
The last two races were scheduled for today morning but were again postponed to afternoon barring heavy showers. The first ITC race was postponed, making way for the MRF F1600 race which ended with a massive pileup on turn one of the first lap. The Volkswagen Motorsport team were forced to swap racing slicks for wets. The grid as always was reversed for the second race putting Chennai;s Harsh Sheth in pole position with Kris Nagdev starting second. Jeet Jhabakh started in P4, Pratik started in P9 while Saurav started P11.
After a smooth start, the more experienced driver were making their way up the order passing the junior drivers who were struggling to brave the rains. Pratik, who had started in 10th, climbed up the order with aggressive driving early in the race. However, he misjudged a corner on the fifth lap and headed straight into the fence forcing him to retire. This handed the lead back to Jeet who won the race with Aimat Sadat in second place. Siddharth who started way back in fourteenth position, but quickly moved up and bagged the third position.
The third race was about to start and the crew got Pratik’s Ameo up and running just in time. The track was drying but had a few puddles in some sections. The weather forecast forced the drivers to stick to wet tyres. Pratik managed to alter his line to carefully dodge the puddles so as to not goof up his stellar lead. He held on to the lead till the end, and finished in first place. Siddharth jumped up one position by overtaking Shubhomoy on the second lap itself. Thereafter the trio Pratik, Siddharth and Shubhomoy held their positions throughout the race. Shubhomoy did feel the heat with Jeet Jhabakh trying to move ahead of him but he managed to hold his position.
“It’s been a challenging weekend for the team and drivers due to extreme weather conditions. We are proud of our technical team who have put in a lot of efforts in servicing the cars to changing the tyres from slicks to wets and back to slick tyres for the final race. It is always exciting to see top drivers putting in such close lap times. The Race two was quite difficult, the drivers showed maturity keeping the cars on track in the immensely challenging conditions. The drivers are happy with the way the cars have performed and mechanically the cars have been brilliant from the get-go.” He further added “When you see such a close competition amongst them, you are sure that the series is moving in the right, competitive direction.” Said Sirish Vissa, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India.
“We are proud of our drivers. All the drivers in this race have set a benchmark in terms of driving standards by putting on clean races we all have come across. Yet the racing was exciting with numerous racers moving up and down the order. Three different race winners in three races and an extremely close Championship battle are testament to the how close the grid is.” Said Rayomand Banajee, Driver Coach Motorsport India.