Let’s cut straight to the chase. The opening round of the MRF MMSC Indian National Racing Championship was single-handedly dominated by one man – Ashwin Datta. In his debut year in the F1600 category, the 19-year old decimated the rest of the field as he won all three races over the weekend.
What’s remarkable here is that Ashwin started racing professionally only when he was sixteen. But in the last three years, he has shown tremendous growth. In 2017, Ashwin took part in the Euro JK series and switched to MRF F1600 class this year. Not to mention, he’s also taking part in Euro JK 2018 and currently leads the points tally in both Euro JK and MRF F1600 championships this year. Race craft aside, Datta also trained really hard to get in shape for the racing season this year – in the last three months, he dropped his weight from 94kg to 72kg. And so far, his efforts seem to be paying off really well. Ashwin started from pole in the first outing and went on to win the race by a comfortable lead. The second race was a reverse grid of top six, meaning Datta was placed sixth on the grid. But even then, he was unstoppable and won the second race of the opening round, ahead of Yash Aradhya (2nd) and Nabil Hussain (3rd). In the final race, Datta carried his momentum through to make it a triple-header.
In the press conference post the race weekend, Datta was pleasantly surprised by his results: ‘The wins are unbelievable. I had good pace throughout the weekend. My progression in the past couple of seasons has been mainly due to my initial training at Meco Motorsports and later at Momentum Motorsports that nurtured me. Frankly, my target for the weekend was to finish in the top five, but I am happy that everything came together.’
While the Datta is in full control of the championship right now, he has some pretty stiff competition on the grid, which includes the likes of Raghul Rangasamy, Arya Singh (2017 Formula LGB 1300 champion) and Karminder Singh (2017 VW Ameo Cup champion). The next three rounds will decide who goes to the Mazda Road to Indy shootout in the United States.