Walawalkar, Rajvirdhan close in on leaders

Ameya Walawalkar (No. 1) leads from S Narendran and Sandeep Kumar

Mumbai’s Ameya Walawalkar (Mars Racing) and Coimbatore’s V Rajvirdhan (Prime Racing) bridged gaps with championship leaders by scoring start-to-finish victories in the Formula LGB Swift and Indian Touring Cars classes in the fourth round of the JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship at the MMST Track in Sriperumbudur today.

Late in the evening, Chennai’s Feroz Khan (HCZ Racing) defied the start-to-finish script by rising from third place on the Indian Junior Touring Cars grid to take the chequered flag ahead of pole sitter B Balavijay (MotoRev India) and championship leader Diljith Shaji (LCT Sigaram Sports). By finishing second, Shaji ensured that he held a 25-point lead over Balavijay.

Walwalkar’s fourth victory in seven starts gave him 100 points and took him 10 points short of team-mate R Deepak (Chennai), whose race came to an early finish when his car developed a mechanical failure. Karthik Krishna (TVS Girling), who started second on the grid but had to satisfy himself with a fifth place today, is 10 points behind Walawalkar.

Walawalkar said the track conditions were very different in the race to those in qualifying. “I had to change the lines after I first discovered mud on the track, brought on by a car that may have spun off and then came back to the track, and then by an oil spill from a car that may have stalled on the track,” he said.

While Walawalkar managed to negotiate both challenges, Narendran went into a spin after driving through the oil spill and had to give up any aspirations of catching up with the leader. “I had to defend my second place from my team-mate Sandeep Kumar,” Narendran said. Sandeep Kumar was more focused on his battle with Chittesh Mandody and was happy to take third place.

By scoring his second win of the season, Rajvirdhan took his tally to 113, 10 points behind TR Radha Selvarajan (Rad Racing) who had to settle for fourth place today. Erstwhile Indian Formula 3 champion N Leelakrishnan piled on some pressure on Rajvirdhan but settled down to do some percentage driving when he realised that the younger driver was not making a mistake.

Siddharth Kishore (Performance Racing), who won seven races in-a-row to emerge champion last season, took the third place after being unable to slip past Leelakrishnan at the first turn. That enabled him climb to fourth place in the standings behind B Vijayakumar (Prime Racing) and nine points ahead of Leelakrishnan.

Championship leader Vishnu Prasad topped the qualifiers in the Polo R Cup, clocking 2:05.574, three-hundredths of a second faster than Munjal Savia (Mumbai) but he would start 11th on the grid in the races tomorrow as a consequence of a penalty imposed by the Stewards for ignoring the black flag in the sixth race of the season last month.

On Sunday, besides six races, including one for Bosses, there would be two stunt shows by the legendary Terry Grant who would be driving a Nissan R370. Grant holds 19 world records, the latest being one for the 566 donuts completed in a car ten days ago at Silverstone. The Briton is known to be an entertainer par excellence and will leave the spectators with memories to cherish.