The upgrades to JK Tyre’s headline racing series has been worthy of praise but LGB F4, supposedly the best way to get into single seat racing after karting, seems to be going nowhere.
With limited track options due to matters that involve neither logistical issues or cost factor, both national racing championships – sponsored by JK Tyre and MRF, respectively – have found themselves coming to familiar venues all too often. The former was back at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore for its second round while the MRF sponsored MMSC championship had concluded all of its rounds at only the Madras Motor Race Track, passing – yet again – on going to the Buddh F1 circuit or even the KMS.
That however, was not the focus of the racing at Kari. The increased speed and handling predictability of the Euro JK 16, that had drivers who had raced the FB02 raving about the upgrades, and the poor state of LGB Formula 4 were the main points of focus.
Ananth Shanmuhgam and Nayan Chatterjee exercised a monopoly on the top spot of Euro JK 16, taking two wins apiece.
Joining the two on the podium on Saturday’s first two races was guest driver Karthik Tharani Singh who was filling in for the absent Krishnaraj Mahadhik, who was competing in the UK’s BRDC F4 series. Tharani, however, suffered a big crash in the third race of the weekend on Sunday when wheel-to-wheel contact on the outside of another car at the first corner of the KMS sent him into a sideways flip into the gravel.
Tharani was unhurt but his car had suffered enough damage to its suspension for him to not participate in the fourth and final race of the weekend. In his absence, the third and fourth races were both won by Chatterjee, although he was given a big run for his money in the final race of the weekend.
Veteran racer Ajay Kini managed to split Chatterjee and Shanmugam on the podium of the third race but the two were uncatchable in the final race of the weekend. The third race required the most amount of dicing for the two perennial leaders to get to the podium on account of a reverse grid of race two deciding the starting grid.
A close dice that lasted throughout the race saw Chatterjee lead Shanmugam over the finish line by around half a second but not before the latter made a dive for the lead on the first corner at the start of the final lap of the 15-lap race (all Euro JK 16 races were 15 laps long).
Less interesting and more saddening was the single-seater racing series in India after karting – similar to the MMSC organized national championship’s own 1300cc series – that is touted as the first step for an Indian racer in single seaters. The LGB F4 races showed how desperately a serious budget boost was needed to get an all-new car.
With the cars featuring the same frame as last year’s ungainly looking machine, no major mechanical upgrades and very flimsy bodywork that constantly saw nosecones littered all over the track, it is clear that a significant investment is required for there to be a proper wingless entry level racing car in India. For too long, the close and incident filled racing in cars that often resemble bumper karts has been said to be justification for the series to exist as it is.
While the LGB F4’s model of cars being given to different teams to modify within the regulations and to field drivers of their choice, regardless of age, is a good one, it requires a car to match it. After seeing the outgoing car and this year’s car in action, it is apparent that such a car does not yet exist.