From the Complete Man to Ferrari racer

Mumbai-based textile magnate Gautam Singhania, Chairman and Managing Director of Ramyond Ltd., on Friday became the first Indian driver to win a race in the Ferrari Challenge series at the Mugello Circuit, just north of Florence, Italy. In race one in the final event of the Copa Shell Europe category of the series, Singhania completed a "grand chelem" of pole position, fastest lap, race win and led every lap of the 30-minute race from the start.

Proud moment: Gautam Singhania (centre) flanked by Italian driver Erich Prinoth (left) and Jacques Duyver of Belgium.

Mumbai-based textile magnate Gautam Singhania, Chairman and Managing Director of Ramyond Ltd., on Friday became the first Indian driver to win a race in the Ferrari Challenge series at the Mugello Circuit, just north of Florence, Italy. In race one in the final event of the Copa Shell Europe category of the series, Singhania completed a “grand chelem” of pole position, fastest lap, race win and led every lap of the 30-minute race from the start.

Behind the wheels of the Ferrari 458 Challenge, the 50-year old business magnate started off the weekend slowly and struggled in the practice sessions on Thursday. However, he turned it around when it mattered as he soaked in the pressure from Italian driver Erich Prinoth from the opening laps to come out triumphs by a tiny margin of 0.2 seconds.

The Mumbai-based textile businessman has the distinction of scoring nine-podium finishes from twelve races in his debut season. This victory, his first, puts him nine points ahead of Prinoth. Singhania is second in the championship with 166 points.

Jacques Duyver of Belgium finished third in the race and with it sealed the championship with 197 points. Speaking after the race, Singhania said, “I got a decent start, there was a lot of pushing and shoving at the start, but I kept it clean. I just focused from corner to corner. It was very difficult because Prinoth was right on my back. I just kept telling myself ‘don’t make a mistake’.

“In Imola, when Prinoth was chasing me, I made an error. That’s when I said ‘never again’. I just knew where I was quicker than him. I was focusing more on that. On the first part of the circuit, I was quicker than him, on the second part, he was quicker and in the last part I was again quicker. So I knew I had him there.”

On Saturday, Singhania will have his hands full for race two as he hopes to seal second place in the championship.

The Ferrari Challenge series, an activity started initially for Ferrari owners, is an annual event that has two championships, the Copa Shell for amatuer drivers and the Trofeo Pirelli for professional racers. The event has three categories; Ferrari Challenge Europe, Ferrari Challenge North America and Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific.

A self-confessed petrol-head and adrenaline junkie with an eclectic mix of car in his collections, Singhania tested waters last year in a few standalone events in Europe and the Ferrari World Finals in Abu Dhabi, where he finished on the podium before embarking on a full-fledged season this year in the Ferrari Challenge.

Results: 1. Gautam Singhania (IND) Kessel Racing 31m, 20.683 sec; 2. Erich Prinoth (ITA) Ineco-MP Racing +0.242; 3. Jasques Duyver (BEL) Kessel Racing +11.373; 4. Christian Kinch (SWE) Lueg Sportiva +11.962; 5. Dirk Adamski (GER) Autohaus Saggio +12.091.

  Dugout videos