Close racing in the opening round of the JK Tyre National Racing Championship resulted in a surprise early points leader.
Eventful, exciting and bizarre! Three adjectives that perfectly described the four races of the opening round of the Euro JK 18 series that were the main draw of the start of the 21st season of the JK Tyre National Racing Championship at the 14-turn, 2.2km Kari Motor Speedway near Coimbatore.
And once the dust settled, both metaphorically and literally, a surprise early points leader emerged in Ashwin Datta who holds a slender one point lead over the experienced Karthik Tharani Singh and Sri Lanka’s Bryan Parera, while Nayan Chatterjee is a further three points behind.
For me personally, and hopefully for those who are following Indian motorsport, it was great to see drivers take part both in JK Racing’s premier single-seat series and the MRF Tyre supported Formula 1600. Racers in India should not have to worry about falling foul with one camp or another due to messy politics.
Tharani returned to the Euro JK series with a win in the opening race. However, there were problems for pole-sitter Nayan Chatterjee who was forced to retire with a technical issue on the first of 15 laps.
A second Euro JK 18 race was also scheduled to be held on the first day but had to be cancelled under bizarre circumstances when some cars on the grid were found to have water in their supply of 97-octane petrol.
This meant three Euro JK races on the second day of racing. In the first race, Tharani seemed imperious as he steadily pulled away from the 12-driver field out of which ten finished after Sudarshan Rao joined Chatterjee as a retirement from the race.
Tharani ultimately finished 1.898 seconds ahead of Nirmal Uma Shankar who was another three seconds ahead of third placed Manav Sharma.
The first seven drivers to cross the finish line were covered by 8.466 seconds, but there was a big gap to the last three drivers in the classification – Chetan Korada, Sahil Shelar and Mira Erda, in that order. They were 27.326, 37.449 and 38.149 seconds behind Tharani at the end of the race.
Sri Lanka’s Bryan Parera won the second and third races, while Tharani took a hard-fought win in the fourth. Ashwin Datta, however, is the early points leader.
Parera looked in command at the front, while Tharani battled it out with Chatterjee and Datta.Any hopes of Tharani making it two wins in a row for the weekend were dashed after he got shunted while running fourth in the first race of the day, causing him to fall to the back of the 12-driver field.
He battled back, however, to finish sixth. A fifth-place finish in the third race was followed by an intense battle for the win in the fourth and final race of the day with Datta and Chatterjee.
The trio slugged it out and took turns in leading the race before crossing the line, while being covered by just 0.614 seconds at the finish line! Tharani took the win, while Datta and Chatterjee were second and third, respectively. After the dust settled, Datta walked home with a tally of 24 points, while Parera and Tharani tied on 23. Chatterjee has 20 points to his name.