Drivers hoping busted engines is not a repeat theme

Leelakrishnan waits in the pitlane before he clocking a few laps on Friday

Drivers and teams alike will be hoping that busted engines are not a repeat theme in the Indian Touring Cars class when the fourth round of the 14th JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship is held this weekend at the Madras Motor Sports Trust Track in Sriperumbudur near here.

The Coimbatore-based Prime Racing team had a most eventful weekend the last time around, the fact that Rajvirdhan won a race came only as a consolation for the team busting close to 10 engines. Rajvirdhan shot ahead of TR Radha Selvarajan (Rad Racing) after that win but had to concede the lead after being unable to complete more than three laps in the last race.

Another top gun who has had to deal with busted engines is former Formula 3 champion N Leelakrishnan. After having skipped the first three races in Coimbatore, Leelakrishnan has caught the eye of the spectators and connoisseurs alike with his spectacular driving in three races to be placed sixth. “Hopefully, I will be able to make a run for the championship,” he said.

There is no doubt that saloon car racing has caught the fancy of many drivers, with as many as 68 entries (including 36 in the Indian Touring Cars class) this season. Yet, it does not entail that the competition in the only single-seater class is any less interesting.

Karthik Krishna’s victory on August 21capped a 1-2-3 finish for TVS Girling in the sixth Formula LGB Swift race of the season and showed that the Chennai-based team could mount a serious challenge to Mars Racing. With 80 points so far, Krishna is sandwiched by the championship leader R Deepak (110) and pre-season favourite Ameya Walakwalkar (75).

The duel between defending champion B Bala Vijay (MotoRev India) and Diljith Shaji (LCT Sigaram Sports) in the Indian Junior Touring Cars class has been riveting, not the least because the former was stripped of all points in the second round and has had bounce back into contention with twin victories here last month.

In the Polo R Cup, Chennai’s Vishnu Prasad will return to the track with memories of being blackflagged in the second race here last month. The stewards had decided on August 21 to impose a further penalty on Vishnu Prasad. He would be moved back 10 places on the grid after qualifications this weekend. Yet, the 22-year-old remains the man to beat.

Avdumber Hede (Goa) and Rahil Noorani (Mumbai) are the only drivers other than Vishnu Prasad to have won a race each in the Polo R Cup series this season. Hede is now 19 points adrift of the championship leader and just five points in front of the consistent Oshan Kothadiya (Pune). Noorani is in fourth place with 139 points.

The rain that came down in three torrential spells on Thursday night and Friday will add to the challenges presented by the track.