Things are getting tight at the top of the standings in the Euro JK16 series, as the JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship finally bids farewell to the Kari Motor Speedway.
We wondered who would come to fill the void left in the flagship series of the FMSCI JK Tyre National Racing Championship after Vishnu Prasad’s permissible tenure in it expired. With his experience in karting and having joined Meco Motorsport, all eyes turned to Nayan Chatterjee. And it certainly looked like that, until the penultimate round of the season in Coimbatore, which is finally done as the host of the JKNRC for the year.
Owing to the proximity to the Asia Road Racing Championship round, JK Tyre decided to stick it out at the Kari Motor Speedway for one more round before heading to the Buddh International Circuit. The KMS has history in Indian motorsport and despite its tight confines, provides good racing as well as being unique in that one can easily see what’s going on at every point of the track. That makes it spectator friendly in a way. But the venue is in dire need of an upgrade, which becomes all the more apparent when a car as sophisticated as the Euro JK16 stops by.
If the LGB F4 and the beat up Esteems and Citys of the Indian Touring Car class were the peak of what was being raced there then would probably feel the venue didn’t need any upgrades. But one can’t shake the feeling that with the Euro JK16 cars and the Rotax karts stopping by, there is a major incident around the corner.
Getting back to the Euro JK 16 class, however, due to having won the inaugural Volkswagen Vento Cup, Anindith Reddy Konda was seeing through the season despite VW not being associated with JK Tyre anymore. And boy is he seeing it through. An off-colour weekend for Chatterjee has put Konda on the verge of winning the championship despite having more experienced rivals in the field this year.
So the question of who will fill the void left by Prasad remains unanswered as the scene shifts near Greater Noida.
A big points swing in which Chatterjee scored only 15 points over four races out of the maximum 40 that were available, meant that he ended up trailing Shanmugam and Konda by three points.
Konda made the biggest gain by scoring 38 points over the four races by scoring three wins and one second place finish. Shanmugam took two seconds and two third place finishes with Chatterjee not managing to finish any higher than fourth in three races and failing to finish in one.
Former MRF Formula 1600 champion Karthik Tharani had a weekend of two halves as he recovered from a retirement and a sixth place finish on Saturday to winning and finishing second in the two races on Sunday.
Tharani’s win was a welcome boost after having suffered a big crash previously and also the woeful Saturday. He and Chatterjee battled hard, with the former even being forced off track at the exit of the second corner of the 2.1 km circuit. Tharani came back to pass Chatterjee, however and take a hard earned win.
He couldn’t do anything about the pace of Konda in the final race of the weekend, though, and after being passed into the first corner, settled for a lonely second place finish with Shanmugam taking third.
Shanmugam and Konda are now tied on 76 points with Chatterjee just three points behind on 73. Dhruv Mohite with 49 and Karthik Tharani with 37 points complete the top five.
With what appeared to be a slightly re-enforced nose cone, the LGB F4 races were less about the shoddy car and more about the weekend long battle between MECO Racing teammates Vishnu Prasad and Raghul Rangasamy with Saran Vikram Tmars mixing it at the sharp end as an independent entry against drivers from the better funded MECO and Dark Don Racing outfits.
In the absence of Ashwin Sundar, who raced for Dark Don in round two and took a second place and a win, Rohit Khanna led the attack for the team as he took two third places and a second to be the third most successful driver in the category behind Prasad and Rangasamy.
Khanna pipped Rangasamy to the finish line for second place in the second of the three races but the series that usually offers the closest racing among the JK Tyre racing program had something more in store.
Prasad and Rangasamy finished the weekend with an incredibly tense scrap as they swapped positions for the lead of the race on almost every lap before Prasad finished ahead by literally less than a nose.