Bengaluru’s Aditya Swaminathan and Chetan Surineni notched a double each in the MRF Formula 2000 and F1600 categories, respectively, as the third round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Car Racing Championship 2023 concluded at the Madras International Circuit.
Meanwhile, Chandigarh’s Angad Matharoo provisionally clinched the championship in the MRF Saloon Car (Toyota Etios) category with five wins from nine starts, besides two podium finishes this weekend.
Also scoring a double over the weekend were: Diana Pundole from Pune in the MRF Saloon Car category and who became the first female driver to score a double in a single round in MMSC National four-wheeler racing championship, Deepak Ravikumar (Chennai, Performance Racing) in Indian Junior Touring Cars and Diljith TS (Thrissur, DTS Racing) in Formula LGB 1300.
The afternoon showers delayed the start of the post-lunch session with three races scheduled. In view of the track conditions, the officials decided to run just the touring cars race while postponing the other two – MRF Formula 2000/1600 and the MRF Saloon (Toyota Eitos).
During the pre-lunch session, Bengaluru’s Aditya Swaminathan, in his debut single-seater season, grabbed the pole position in the MRF Formula 2000 category. Another Bengalurean, Chetan Surineni, topped the charts in the MRF Formula 1600 qualifying session.
Pune’s Diana Pundole, a mother of two, qualified for pole position in the MRF Saloon (Toyota Etios) category as did Nellore’s Viswas Vijayaraj (DTS Racing) in the Formula LGB 1300 class.
MRF Formula 2000 :
Aditya Swaminathan from Chennai, starting from pole, took the honours in Race-1 by clocking the 10laps in 16min 02.814sec, Bengaluru boy Rohaan Madesh with about .600th of a second difference finished in second position as Chetan Korada from Chennai finished behind him with over 5sec further deficit.
Without much ado but had to fight hard for the win in the next after starting from P5 on the reverse grid was Swaminathan finishing with about .600th of a second ahead of Arya Singh from Kolkata. Sandeep Kumar from Chennai secured the podium in third position with over a second difference.
Championship leader Sandeep Kumar from Chennai salvaged his weekend by winning Race-3, edging out Kolkata’s Arya Singh in a close finish, Rohaan Madesh also finished a very close third.
Bengaluru boy Chetan Surineni won Race-1 came in behind him was Viswas Vijayraj from Nellore in second with just over one second difference, Aman Nagdev from Noida finished third with a lap deficit.
Winner Mumbai's Veer Sheth managed to hold off Viswas Vijayaraj in race2 with about 5sec and Aman completed the podium.
The final race of this round once again belonged to Surineni for the second time he was able to finish very close ahead of Viswas and so did Sheth to finish third.
The eight-lap race1 for the touring cars witnessed some drama even before it commenced. Pole-sitter and Balu’s team-mate Gurunath Meiyappan from Race Concepts, the championship leader, retired with a turbo issue on the outlap itself and could not take the start.
Arjun Balu, the 48-year-old multiple champion from Coimbatore, who had qualified P3, made a great start and overtook Ritesh Rai, the private entrant from Chennai, by Turn-2 in the opening lap and never looked back. His vast experience was in evidence as he tip-toed past the water puddles around the track with a near-flawless drive and had something to spare at the finish. While Rai came in second with over one second difference, Mumbai’s Biren Pitawalla from N1 Racing completed the podium within the same second.
One of the big stories of the day two was scripted by Biren, a 42-year-old businessman from Mumbai, piloting a Honda Jazz. He put in a solid performance to win race2, his second of the season after a stirring duel.
Starting from P2 on the reverse grid, Biren overtook pole-sitter and his cousin Anant Pithawalla on Lap 2. With Anant holding off the pursuing cars, Biren made rapid ground to draw clear of the pack. Behind the pair, championship leader Gurunath Meiyappan from Race Concepts, after surviving a contact with defending champion and team-mate Arjun Balu who then retired, caught up with Biren who gave a fine exhibition of defensive driving to take the chequered flag. Meiyappan finished second position with about .600th of a second difference to stay on top of the leaderboard while Ritesh Rai from Arka Motorsports came in third with a further difference of over 3sec.
“A very special win today, because I won on the track. I had “won” the first race in the previous round, but that was because of penalties to the guys who finished in front of me. So, this is very special and a culmination of nearly 12 years of hard work that my cousin Ananth Pithawalla and I had put in,” said Biren.
In race1, behind the ITC cars on the combined grid, Deepak Ravikumar led a podium sweep for Performance Racing with Akkineni Anand Prasad and Srinivas Teja following him home.
Race 2 was no different Deepak finished on top with a lead of over 18sec over the second finisher Akkineni and Srinivas with further 7sec difference finished third.
Mumbai’s Zahan Commissariat drove well to take the honours in race1with a lead of 3sec to snap a six-race win spree of TS Diljith from DTS Racing who finished second ahead of Jarshan Anand from DB Motorsport with over 1lap further difference.
Diljith was back in his winning spree in Race2 he finished on top with a total time of 20min 56.57sec, Mumbai driver Manan Patel from Redline Racing finished second and Yokeshwaran K from Coimbatore representing Momentum Motorsports finished third.
MRF Saloons (Toyota Etios) :
28-year-old from Pune Diana Pundole, a mother of two, won Race-1 from lights to flag after opening a sizable lead in the early part of the 10-lapper to notch her maiden win in this category with a lead of over 2sec over Angad Matharoo from Chandigarh, while Jai Prashanth Venkat from Coimbatore with less than a second deficit settled for third. In the next outing, she started from P5 on the reverse grid, but battled her way to the front and went on to achieve a double with a lead of over a second on the second position finisher Angad Jai Prashanth finished third with over 4sec further difference. Zahan Commissariat from Mumbai topped Race-3 following a time penalty to P1 finisher Matharoo. Zahan managed to keep Jai Prashanth behind him with a two second difference as Kalim Iqbal from Colombo with further less than a second difference finished third.
Formula LGB 1300 :
Diljith from DTS Racing was virtually gifted the win in Race-1 as pole-sitter Viswas Vijayaraj, leading by the proverbial mile, went off the track at Turn-1, damaging the nose cone besides losing brakes. Yet, the Nellore youngster re-joined the race and managed to survive the final two laps to come in second behind Thrissur's Diljith with a difference of 5sec, Chennai's Deepak Ravikumar from Ahura Racing was two seconds slower to finish third. Diljith later easily won Race-2 for a double managing to keep Bengaluru boy Tijil Rao from Momentum Motorsports behind him by over 9sec, Raghul Rangasamy from Mahabalipuram representing MSport with just over .500th of a second settled for third.