Despite incessant rainfall over the weekend, both rookies & experienced drivers of the Ameo Class drove with great skill to end the penultimate round of the 2019 season.
The Volkswagen Championship, or the Ameo Class of the MRF MMSC Indian National Car Racing Championship (INCRC) 2019, witnessed perhaps one of the wettest race weekends in its history. Despite numerous sections of the track nearly submerged in water & the constant rainfall, Race 2 of the Ameo Class took place nonetheless. Apart from the wet-surface intermediate tyres, the drivers only had their finesse and skills to rely on.
With the reverse grid order in effect (for the top 11 finishers of Race 1), Race 2 started with the previous winner Saurav Bandyopadhyay (#4) in P11. Jeet Jhabakh, who had started the race from P4, quickly managed to take the lead from polesitter Harsh Sheth (#15). However, Bangladesh's Aiman Sadat (#11) was hot on Jhabakh's tail in P2. Meanwhile, Pratik Sonawane (#7) showed immense bravery by sticking to an aggressive approach even on the wettest sections of the track, which saw him take the lead from Jhabakh mid-way through the race.
However, instead of defending the lead by easing on his pace, Sonawane continued to drive on the edge and soon found himself running into the barriers, towards the end of the race. His crash was particularly serious as he smashed into the barriers at approx. 110km/h, damaging his car significantly. This resulted in Jhabakh regaining the lead with Sadat in P2. From the back though, rookie driver Siddharth Mehdiratta (#9) had patiently chased down the pack ahead of him, as he was now running in P3.
The race ultimately ended in this order. Despite a third-place finish, Mehdiratta stole the show as he had managed to climb up to P3 all the way from P14.
With the sun out and the track nearly dried up, the final Ameo Class race of Round 3 began with Saurav Bandyopadhyay (#4) & Shubhomoy Ball (#19) sharing the front row. Behind them, Mehdiratta (#9) & Sonawane (#7) found themselves on the second row for the start. Sonawane though managed to enter Race 3 with the narrowest of margins as the mechanics were fixing his car right till the last minute of the pit lane open period.
With the straights dried up and decent levels of tyre grip back on offer, the front-row starters were soon in a race of their own. This time though, Sonawane showed much more refinement in his driving and subsequently, he became the race leader. While Bandyopadhyay fell back to P4, Mehdiratta & Ball managed to hold P2 and P3, respectively.
The race ultimately concluded in this order, fetching Sonawane much-needed relief to remedy the strain of his overwhelming crash. Meanwhile, Siddharth Mehdiratta had every reason to rejoice, as he clinched his second consecutive career podium finish on the same race weekend. Ball, however, was not too content with his P3 finish.
With just the final round remaining in the 2019 season, the Ameo Class competitors will once again meet at Chennai's MMRT in September for the final showdown.