The Ameo Cup heralds not only a number of fresh-faced drivers, but also a far more focussed (and faster) race machine than previous years.
Since its inception in 2010, with a spiced-up diesel Polo, the Volkswagen Cup has showcased significant progress with each of its iterations starring a superior version of the cup car. However, the 2017 season is a real testament to Volkswagen Motorsport India’s (VWMI) engineering prowess. No, not because the new cup cars are based off VW’s newest kid – the Ameo – instead, because the Ameo Cup cars are so much more than just Vento Cup cars with a stubby boot and a massive rear wing.
In fact, it’s the first time in a span of seven years that a Volkswagen Cup car has been fully developed in India. Sirish Vissa, the Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India, speaks with great pride of the work done by his team to indigenously develop the Ameo Cup race car.
For every iteration of the Volkswagen Cup cars before the Ameo, there were inputs from Volkswagen Motorsport’s German arm – though their role has been shrinking year-after-year. And for their first car completely developed in-house, VWMI has strived to inject some genuine motorsport DNA into it.
This time, VW’s signature DSG gearbox has been ditched in favour of a bespoke 6-speed sequential unit – in order to turn the Ameo Cup car into a more focussed race machine. There’s also a huge carbon-fibre spoiler – again engineered in Pune at VW’s R&D centre, to provide this 203bhp machine with some much-needed downforce.
The Ameo Cup car bares the burden of having a dual responsibility – first, serving as a platform for the greenhorns to feel at right home on the track, and, second, to record faster lap times than the rambunctious (looking and sounding) ITC spec Indian touring cars, which are born in the local garages. At least for the first round in Coimbatore, the Ameo Cup car proved that all the time and resources spent developing it have been worthwhile.
On the inaugural Saturday, at the Kari Motor Speedway, during qualifying the Ameo Cup car managed to edge out the best lap time set by an ITC spec car by 0.290 seconds. The car was being driven by the 2016 Vento Cup runner-up – Karminder Singh. Singh had an eventful first day, where he swept the top spots in the practice sessions as well as qualifying.
Karminder managed to mark his dominance throughout the first round, as he secured pole position, and finished first in race one and two – while he finished second in race three. Locking horns with Singh was A. Sandeep Kumar, who was just behind Singh in the first two races, and managed to pip him to the top spot in the third race on Sunday.
The drivers also took this opportunity to admire their new steed. Repeating participants (from previous years) were pretty dazzled by VWMI’s mettle to produce what is now a far more focussed and demanding race machine – something that bodes well for the season ahead.