Sriperumbudur: Pune’s Pratik Sonawane outclassed his competition, leading from start to finish, to win the first race of round two of the MRF MMSC Volkswagen Ameo Class 2019 at the Madras Motor Race Track, here on Saturday.
Sharing the podium with him were Saurav Bandyopadhyay in second place and Jeet Jhabakh - who had won two of the three races in the first round that took place at the Kari Motor Speedway - in third place.
Pratik was smooth from the word ‘go’, and maintained the early lead he had earned courtesy a pole position finish in qualifying. There was no change in the top six standings throughout the race as Siddharth Mehdiratta, Anmol Singh Sahil and Shubhomoy Ball finished where they started, in 4th, 5th and 6th place respectively.
Behind Pratik there was some action during the first lap as Jeet tried to challenge Saurav who maintained a defensive line through the first couple of laps to keep Jeet away and thus maintained his position till the end.
The drivers faced a massive challenge before the weekend action began, owing to difficult track conditions that hindered practice on Thursday, but showed great composure as the weekend approached.
Speaking after the race, Pune driver Pratik said that adapting to the track conditions gradually was crucial for him that turned out to be the deciding factor. “I increased my pace according to my strategy and I am happy that worked in my favour.”
The starting grid for the second and final race of the round will see the top 12 finishers of Race 1 start in reverse order. With the faster drivers starting at the back and charging through, plenty of action can be expected in Sunday’s Race 2.
Asked about what his approach for Sunday’s race would be, Saurav said, “It’s a top 12 reverse grid, so it’s going to be crazy. Just going to go for it. Being aggressive but at the same time sensible as well will be key tomorrow.”
“We had lot of drama on Thursday due which the drivers lost some practice time. But the technical team put all the cars back together very quickly to ensure that no time was lost from Friday onwards. It has been a challenging week for us as a team and especially for the drivers as the weather conditions here challenging with high humidity and high temperatures,” said Sirish Vissa, head of Volkswagen Motorsport India.
“I am happy to witness the way the drivers managed to remain cool in such challenging situations,” he added.