The three week break had come to a close when Volkswagen Polo R Cup revisited Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore for the second round of the 2013 challenge. The twisty and tidy sections of the Speedway will test the driving ability and getting a good line into first corner is as crucial to defend and overtake. Luckily I was there at my home track to catch up with the action unfolded.
Prashanth Tharani quickly pounced on Saturday qualifying in his first flying lap to head the timing sheets. With a 1:14.844 lap, the Chennai driver had done just enough to clinch pole ahead of Jeffrey Kruger. The South African will start from the front row as he did for the opening clash in July. The rookie Samarth Jaiswal put on a stunning lap to go third fastest - 0.616 seconds down on the pole lap - ahead of Yatin Magu followed by the 2013 inaugural race winner Rahil Noorani and Rahul Gupta.
The field was so close that only a second gap separated the top eight drivers. Angad Singh Matharoo and Kartik Tharani lined up on the fourth row with Rakesh Ramkumar and Anshul Shah set ninth and tenth quickest laps respectively. The home drivers - Gowdham Raj and Venkatesh Shreyas - endured a disappointing qualifying session to languish at the back end of the field. Adnan Lehry had a crash and was unable to fix the damaged car in time to contest the race. It was a bit of a surprise as the fastest time set was five tenths off the pace while compared to the opening round.
Race 1 - Prashanth Tharani dominates from pole to finish:
The first Polo Cup race in the morning shaped up to be a thrilling encounter as the track temperature was steady and the grip level was getting even better throughout the race. As the lights went off signaling the start of the race, the cars rushed down the main straight and Prashanth kept his racing line to stay ahead of Kruger and Jaiswal. The quest to get back the lead began falling short for the rest of the pack as Prashanth and Kruger extended their advantage.
Though Kruger kept up the pace, Prashanth had the clear track ahead and led the way for all of the 15 laps. He almost lapped his struggling brother in the final stages of the race. Kruger pushed his Polo racer to the limit only to end up finishing a second behind the race winner. Rahil Noorani had an eventful race, after losing a place to Matharoo early in lap 1, from sixth and kept his composure to battle through for the final step of the podium.
Matharoo completed the race fourth ahead of Yatin Magu and Surapaneni from Hyderabad. Jaiswal dropped four places to seventh while Gowdham Raj made it into top 10 yet again followed closely by Thakran and Mehta.
After taking the chequered flag, Prashanth Tharani said “It was thrilling to take the pole position yesterday and even better to win the race today. My sponsors had surprised me with a lot of branding for me on my way to the track and that definitely contributed to the motivation that I had to win this race! I hope I can carry forward my good form and perform well in Race 2 as well.”
Race 2 - Jeffrey Kruger wins as Noorani falters:
The second race had all the ingredients of excitement as drivers thrived to extend their points lead at the top. The reverse grid automatically slotted Rahil Noorani in sixth who was so anxious at the early going as he jump started the race and sneaked through to second. Sooner he took a commanding lead on lap 2 which was short-lived because of incurring a twenty second penalty for the jump start.
Owing to that he was demoted to seventh after the race which meant promoting Jeffrey Kruger to the top step of the podium. Prashanth Tharani maintained consistency to finish second ahead of Yatin Magu's maiden podium finish. The big haul of points aided Kruger to catapult his lead in the drivers' standings over Prashanth Tharani and Rahil Noorani. Matharoo, Jaiswal, Mehta, Noorani, Prince, Ugale and Karthik rounded out the top 10.
Jeffrey Kruger, winner of Race 1, commented, “It is wonderful to be on the top spot. After winning a race in Round 1, this is what I was looking forward to. Moreover, having secured a podium in each race till now, it encourages me to win more races.”
VW Vento Support Race - Shrivatsa Sinha tames the saloon:
Siddharth Santosh took pole position, 0.166s clear of Shrivatsa Sinha, for the Volkswagen Vento Support Race held for the first time alongside Polo R Cup. Siddharth Santosh was penalised 30 seconds for the jump start as Shrivatsa Sinha headed the field with a winning margin of almost 20 seconds. Behind Shrivatsa, Sahil Gahuri fended off Siddharth to take second while Adithyan Ellan crossed the line fourth and later boosted to third as Siddharth served his 30 second penalty.
Driver’s Standings: Driver Points Jeffrey Kruger 162 Prashanth Tharani 145 Rahi Noorani 118 Angad Singh Matharoo 85 Gaurav Mehta 83 Samarth Jaiswal 83 Yatin Magu 81 Niranjan Todkari 67 Karthik Tharani 67 Maninder Singh Prince 61 Gowdham Raj 56 Hanoosh Surapaneni 56 Tanmay B Ugale 54 Diviraj Thakran 44 Anshul Shah 40 Rakesh Ramkumar 39 Rahul Gupta 37 Shivjeet Malik 33 Venkatesh Shreyas 24 Trivikram Singh Toor 10 Adnan Lehry 4 Rohan Pawar 0