TR Radha Selvarajan (Rad Racing, Chennai) marked his comeback into competitive racing after a year and half with a thrilling victory in a photo finish the inaugural race of the Super Saloons class in the opening round of the 14th JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship at the Kari Motor speedway in Chettipalayam near Coimbnatore on Saturday.
By contrast, R Deepak (Mars Racing, Chennai) won the first race of the Formula LGB Swift series comfortably in a race in which title favourites Ameya Walawalkar (Mars Racing, Mumbai), Goutham Parekh (WSRF, Chennai) and S Narendran (TVS Girling, Chennai) did not feature prominently at the finish.
The defending champion Bala Vijay (MotoRev India, Chennai) made a winning start to the new season on the Indian Junior Touring Cars ahead of LCT Sigaram Sports TS Diljith (Kerala) and Jai Prashant Venkat (Coimbatore).
A visibly elated Selvaraj, who did not race last season since he was training Sailesh Bolisetty and lent him his car, admitted to being rusty from lack of competitive racing since December 2009. Yet, he showed that he not lost any of his hunger and skills as he rallied from an error on the third lap to win the nine-lap race, edging V Raj Viruthan (Prime Racing, Coimbatore) to second place.
Selvarajan drew on his vast experience to stay in Raj Viruthan’s slipstream for a couple of laps, studying the younger driver. He spotted a weakness and waited until the final turn on the last lap to draw abreast of Raj Viruthan. The cars hurtled down the home stretch together but Selvarajan won 0.042 seconds in front. “I am pleased to start the season with a win and all I want to do is enjoy one race at a time,” Selvarajan said before he returned to the paddock.
The defending champion Siddharth Kishore (Performance Racing, Chennai) started third on the grid but a malfunctioning Electronic Control Unit meant that he could do no better than finish eighth and take a point from the opening race.
In the opening race of the Formula LGB Swift – the sole Formula series in the National Championship – the 23-year-old Deepak showed great heart in competing with Parekh and Walawalkar were involved in a crash as the two swapped leads over the first four laps but had it easy over the second half of the race when the other prominent names fell out of contention
Deepak slowed down on a curve after climbing a slope, Parekh was left with no option but to slow down his car. Ameya, running third and seeking to catch up with the leaders, spotted Parekh’s gleaming red car late. His front wheel made contact with the rear wheels of Parekh’s car and ran both out of the race. It was heartening to see Walawalkar and Parekh get together and share smiles.
The 20-year-old Karthik Krishna (TVS Girling) made capital of the incidents ahead of him, staying calm to take the second place ahead of team-mate K Prashanth in a race was notable for Akhil Devrag moved from the back of the 20-car grid to finish fifth.
Formula LGB Swift Race 1: R Deepak (Mars Racing) 12:20.239; 2. Karthik Krishna (TVS Girling) 12:27.581; 3. K Prashanth (TVS Girling) 12:29.135; 4. Sandeep Kumar (TVS Girling) 12:30.013; 5. Akhil Devraj (TVS Girling) 12:33.384; 6. Chitesh Mandody (Meco Racing) 12:33.711. Fastest lap: Ameya Walawalkar (Mars Racing) 1:12.303
Indian Touring Cars (Super Saloons) Race 1: 1. TR Radha Selvarajan (RAD Racing) 12:31.875, 2. V Raj Virudhan (Prime Racing) 12:31.917, 3. C Rajaram (Prime Racing) 12:32.188, 4. Deepak Paul Chinnappa (FRK Racing) 12:41.898, 5. B Vijay Kumar (Prime Racing) 12:44.764, 6. Vir Raina (Chettinad Sporting) 12:59.969. Fastest lap: Rajaram 1:21.675.
Indian Junior Touring Cars: 1. Bala Vijay (MotoRev India, Chennai) 13:36.243; 2. TS Diljith (LCT Sigaram Sports, Kerala) 13:26.943; 3. Jai Prashant Venkat (LCT Sigaram Sports, Coimbatore) 13:46.643; 4. Gokul Krishna (MotoRev India, Chennai) 13:58.886; 5. S Narendran (IPL Power Pak Racing, Chennai) 14:05.767; 6. Anantha Sainam (LCT Sigaram Sports, Coimbatore) 14:11.647. Fastest lap: TS Dijith 1:19.262.