A closely contested final leg

K. KEERTHIVASAN

EVER since its inception in 1998, the JK Tyre National racing championship has been getting better - in terms of prize money, number of participants and quality of races.

Esteem Class winner Ayub Khan (left) and the FISSME champion Sarosh Hataria with their trophies.-SCORP NEWS

Not only does the event give the spectators a chance to view some high class action, but most important of all, provides the drivers with the required motivation to perform consistently well over five legs. The FISSME winner (based on points he has scored in all the legs) gets a berth in the famed Formula Asia championship. The winner received, apart from the cash prize, a brand new Maruthi Esteem.

Just to give some basic stuff. A race weekend primarily consists of four races. The Esteem section and FISSME class comprises two races each - laps 10 and 15. The top three finishers in the 10-lap race get 10, 8 and 6 points respectively, while those in the 15-lap race secure 15, 12 and 10 points.

Before the start of the fifth and final leg at the Irungattukottai track, on a hot and sultry Sunday, Delhi's Sarosh Hataria in the FISSME class and Chennai's Ayub Khan in the Esteem category were leading with 63 points and 77 points respectively. The two maintained the lead to claim the overall title even though they failed to finish first in both the races of the fifth leg. More than the winners, Mr. Sanjay Sharma, Head - Motorsport, JK Industries Ltd, seemed to be the most satisfied man. "It has been a dream cum true for JK Tyre. All the drivers from here have gone to do well. From Parthiva Sureshwaran to Karun Chandhok. Need I say more."

Sarosh, the 21-year-old is a regular in the circuit, and has been performing well. "This is what I have been waiting for," said an elated Sarosh, after receiving the Trophy from cine actress Jyotika.

However, looking back, Sarosh expressed disappointment for not having a perfect race in the earlier legs. "I did not do well in the second and third legs. And it was sheer bad luck for me."

In the Esteem section, veteran Kamlesh Patel used all his experience to beat the challenge from Ayub to finish first in the lap 10 race. Being the final leg, it all boiled down to the points secured in previous legs which had a bearing here.

At the end of lap 10, the points difference between Ayub Khan and T.R. Radha Selvaraj was just five, with Kamlesh way behind the two. Fourth leg winner Radha had it in him to fight it out with Ayub but surprisingly he fizzled out managing only a third place in lap 15.

Ayub rode a clean lap 15 race to finish first and claim the overall title. "I have no words for it. All I can say is thank you," said Ayub. In fact, even before the final race, Sanjay predicted that Ayub would pull it off. "He has done the cleanest race ever."

The final leg was without doubt a closely contested one. It was not Sarosh who blazed the track, but Gaurav Dalal. Dalal won both the lap 10 and lap 15 races comfortably. "I ensured that all my turns were smooth and clean," Gaurav said on his victory. By doing well here, Gaurav (who was in third position overall) jumped to the second spot edging out J. D. Madan.

Speaking to The Sportstar, Vicky Chandhok, the series co-ordinator, said that the objective of the championship was to enable the drivers to recover the cost involved in competing and to make driving more accessible and one which will make them come back to the sport. "We drove mainly for the fun involved in driving. Now that it has become competitive and expensive, we need to give the drivers that much encouragement so that they feel satisfied at the end of the day for taking motorsport as a career."

There was excitement outside the tracks too. Vicky, in true motorsport style, interviewed the top three drivers (for AXN Television) after the end of every race (10 & 15). The crowd, mostly youngsters, enjoyed the show.

Final position:

Esteem: 1. Ayub Khan (100 points), 2. Radha Selvaraj (90), 3. Kamlesh Patel (82); FISSME: 1. Sarosh Hataria (81 pts), 2. Gaurav Dalal (74), 3. J.D. Madan (64).

The results (Fifth leg):

Esteem: Lap 10: 1. Kamlesh Patel (13.39.610), 2. Ayub Khan (13.39.884), 3. T. R. Radha Selvaraj (13.34.763); Lap 15: 1. Ayub Khan (20.30.787), 2. Kamlesh Patel (20.32.203), 3. T. R. Radha Selvaraj (20.32.694).

FISSME: Lap 10: 1. Gaurav Dalal (12.21.270), 2. Sarosh Hataria (12.21.686), 3. J. D. Madan (12.22.788); Lap 15: 1. Gaurav Dalal (18.33.505), 2. Gurunath Meiyappan (18.41.957), 3. Sarosh Hataria (18.42.107).