Indian racers abroad and their plans for the 2018 season of motorsport
It's that time of the year again! When our brave racers go looking for racing seats and saddles in various parts of the world. Here's our handy guide to who is racing where in 2018, and what they're hoping for.
Name: Jehan Daruvala
2017 season: FIA Formula 3 European Championship
Best finish: Victory at Norisring
2018 season: FIA Formula 3 European Championship
Jehan Daruvala is set for a second season in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2018.
2017 was a big year for Jehan Daruvala. Not only did the Indian driver move up to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, but he managed to take a fine victory in the series. Daruvala won Race 3 at Norisring, which was his second trip to the podium after he managed to finish second in Race 1 at Monza earlier in the year. He held his own in a very competitive pack, making it to the points regularly. While he was bested by his Carlin team-mate, Lando Norris (who would eventually take home the championship title and the rookie title) he still managed to make it to fifth in the overall points standings, and second in the rookie class. His outing at the Macau GP might not have gone according to plan, with Daruvala only managing a tenth place finish, but there were other high points in the season. For 2018 Jehan makes a return to the same championship, once again driving for the Carlin team. He is joined by Devlin DeFrancesco, Sacha Fenestraz, Ferdinand Habsburg and Nikita Troitskiy as team-mates. The goal will be a top-three finish in the championship in 2018. The long-term goal, as it always has been, is Formula 1. Whether the Sahara Force India connect will come into play at some point is as yet a grey area.
Name: Arjun Maini
2017 season: GP3 Series
Best finish: Victory at Catalunya
2018 season: GP2 Series
Arjun Maini graduates to the GP2 Series in 2018, and will continue his role as development driver with the Haas F1 team.
Arjun Maini completed his second full year in the GP3 series in 2017. Racing for Jenzer motorsport, Maini's high point of the season came early on, with a victory at the sprint race at the very first round of the championship in Catalunya. He did manage to break into the points regularly over the course of the season, making a second trip to the podium with a third place finish at the feature race in Yas Marina. He ended the championship in ninth position overall, one place better than in 2016. Maini signed on as a development driver with the Haas F1 team early on in the season. In 2018, he continues that role, while also moving up the single-seater ladder to F2, where he will compete with the Trident team. Testing ahead of the season saw Maini finish at the head of the timing sheets in two of the six sessions that he participated in. For 2018, he says the goal is to deliver strong results. The overall goal, once again, is Formula 1.
Name: Kush Maini
2017 season: Italian F4 championship
Best finish: 3rd place at Imola; 3rd place at Monza
2018 season: British Formula 3 championship
Kush Maini will compete in the BRDC British F3 Championship in 2018.
2017 was Kush Maini's second season in the Italian F4 championship. While he finished 16th in the overall championship in 2016 and fifth in the rookie category, 2017 went much better. Driving for Jenzer Motorsport, Kush's regular points-scoring finishes led him to seventh place overall in the championship. En route, he made it to the podium twice - once at Imola and once at Monza. The 2018 season sees the 17-year old make it to the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship. Kush will compete for the Lanan Racing team, for whom he has already successfully tested, topping the timing sheets at Donington. In fact he was so quick in testing, that his time of 1min 24.523sec was half a second quicker than last year's pole time. If he can keep up this pace, 2018 might go very well indeed.
Name: Krishnaraaj Mahadik
2017 season: British Formula 3 Championship (two rounds)
Best finish: Victory at Brands Hatch
2018 season: British Formula 3 Championship
This will be Krishnaraaj Mahadik's first full season in international motorsport in two years, this time with Double R Racing in British Formula 3.
The 2018 season will mark Krishnaraaj Mahadik's return to full-time racing, once again with the BRDC Formula 3 Championship, where he will compete for the Double R Racing outfit. Mahadik first competed in British F3 back in 2016, with Chris Dittman Racing, where he had a tough first season, managing to break into the top 10 just once. However, in 2017, competing in only two rounds of the championship with Double R Racing, he managed a first place finish at the sprint race at Brands Hatch. His performance impressed the team, which explains why the 19-year old has signed with them for a second time. Testing at Donington saw Mahadik set the eighth fastest time. Will he be able to beat the other Indian driver on the grid is the question.
Name: Akash Gowda
2017 season: Japanese F4 championship
Best finish 13th place at Sportsland SUGO
2018 season TBC
Akash Gowda is likely to compete in another season of single-seater racing in Asia.
Akash Gowda competed in the 2017 Japanese Formula 4 championship, where the learning curve was steep, and the competition, among a grid of over 30, was stiff. Then driving for the VSR Lamborghini SC Formula Jr. team, the young Indian driver managed a 13th place finish at Sportsland SUGO. The aim for the 2018 season is for Akash to compete in the F3 Asian Championship. The regional championship will feature six rounds, three of which will take place at Sepang in Malaysia, two at the Ningbo International Speedway in China, and one in Shanghai.
Name: Narain Karthikeyan
2017 season: Super Formula Japan
Best finish: 13th at Suzuka, 13th Okayama, Sportsland SUGO
2018 season: Super Formula Japan
Narain Karthikeyan is set to compete in another season of Super Formula Japan in 2018
2017 marked Narain Karthikeyan's fourth consecutive year in the Super Formula Japan series. His fifth in all, if one were to include the 2001 season of the championship. In 2017, driving for the TCS Nakajima Racing outfit, Narain competed in all rounds of the championship. But with a very competitive grid, and retirements at both Motegi and Autopolis, he could do no better than 19th in the championship. The 41-year old Indian driver makes a return to the same series in 2018, continuing to drive for the TCS Nakajima Racing team.
Name: Aditya Patel
2017 season: Blancpain GT Series Asia
Best finish: 1st place at Sepang, Zheijang Race 1, Zheijang Race 2
2018 season: Blancpain GT Series Asia
Aditya Patel will return to the Blancpain GT Series Asia in 2018 with team ODRacing
2017 was a particularly good season for Aditya Patel. After a somewhat lacklustre 2016 season in the Audi R8 LMS Cup, where he failed to win a race until the season finale at Shanghai, Patel switched to racing in the Blancpain GT Series Asia. The Indian driver teamed up with Australian Mitch Gilbert at Team OD Racing, and the two began winning straight away. The season opener at Sepang resulted in a win, which was followed by multiple podiums for both drivers. And while they managed to win both races at the season finale, the championship wasn't to be theirs. They lost out on the title by one single point. For 2018, Aditya will return to the same championship, this time in a bid to seal the title. He will continue with the OD Racing outfit, with the same team-mate - Mitch Gilbert - too. However he hasn't signed on the dotted line as yet.
Name: Armaan Ebrahim
2017 season: Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia
Best finish 3rd place at Sepang
2018 season TBC
Another season in sportscar racing seems to be on the cards for Armaan Ebrahim in 2018. Details yet to be confirmed though.
For the 2017 season of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia series, Armaan Ebrahim moved up to the Pro Class, which was the logical step for him, given that he'd already clinched the title in the Pro Am class the previous year. He joined FFF Racing, where he drove with Jack Bartholomew. The pair had considerable success in their Lamborghini Huracan, making it to the podium on multiple occasions. For the 2018 season, Armaan is considering another stint in the Super Trofeo Asia series, or perhaps a GT car championship in Japan. However, the details are yet to be finalised.
Name: Akhil Rabindra
2017 season: British GT Championship - GT4 class
Best finish: 4th overall at Oulton Park, 2nd in class
2018 season: TBC
Akhil Rabindra, who made the switch to GT racing from single seaters in 2017, is looking to continue in the championship in 2018.
2017 marked the year that Akhil Rabindra made the switch from racing single-seaters to racing GT cars. The McLaren GT Academy driver was signed by the Black Bull Garage 59 team, and drove a McLaren 570S GT4 in the British GT Championship. The high point of the year was fact that he managed to take a fourth place overall at Oulton Park, which was a second in class. Add this to a couple of other class podiums and Akhil had a decent first year in tin-tops. For 2018, Akhil has confirmed that he will compete in the 2018 GT4 European Series for the 3Y Technology team. He will join Belgian racer Stephane Lemeret in the team's BMW M4 GT4. The aim is to make it higher up the order this year, having finished 13th in the British GT4 standings in 2017.
Name: Gaurav Gill
2017 season: Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
Best finish: Victory at Whangarei, Hokkaido, Chikmagalur
2018 season: Asia-Pacific Rally Championship
Another season in the APRC for Gaurav Gill. But it's about time someone gave him a seat in the WRC2, at the very least.
Gaurav Gill is the most accomplished rally driver in the country. Actually, scratch that. Gaurav Gill is now the most accomplished rally driver in the Asia-Pacific region. We think that's fair to say now that he's clinched his third Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title, and his second title on the trot. It seems like the MRF Skoda driver keeps getting teamed with a young, highly skilled European driver, and he holds his own. The 2017 season was no different, with Gill managing to keep Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby at bay, winning title number three. In 2017, Gill will continue in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, in his bid to take a fourth championship title. But there's now a strong push to see if he can acquire a WRC2 seat. The last we heard, Skoda was trying to get Gill a cockpit with the Dutch Webers team. We can only say that he deserves it and we hope it happens. Soon, that too! On the domestic scene, Gill will return to rallying with the Mahindra Adventure team, and attempt to defend his INRC title in 2018.
Name: Shahan Ali Mohsin
2017 season: World Series Karting Championship
Best finish: 2nd place in Austria
2018 season: TBC
Shahan Ali Mohsin, our most promising karter internationally, will need to recover from rib injuries before he can return to active competition.
Currently India's most promising karter, thirteen year old Shahan Ali Mohsin has had a rapid rise through the rungs of karting. The young Indian driver won the Asian Karting Championship in the Micro Max category in 2016, and then progressed to karting in Europe, where he immediately impressed, securing a second-place finish at the Austrian round of the World Series Karting Championship. He also claimed second place in one round of the Rotax Max Central European Championship. While Shahan was meant to compete in the CIK FIA Academy trophy in 2018, an old injury sustained in the 2017 National Karting Championship has flared up early on in his motorsport season. While competing in the 2018 Trofeo Andrea Margutti in Italy, Shahan was forced to pull out of the event due to the fact that his rib injury began acting up once again. The recovery time for his injury - which has been diagnosed as a broken rib - is likely to be up to 12 weeks. At the time of going to press Shahan's plans for the 2018 season were being reworked, and will only be finalised once he is completely healed.
Name: Ruhaan Alva
2017 season: EasyKart Italia Championship
Best finish: Victory at South Garda Karting Circuit, Italy
2018 season: EasyKart Italia Championship
Ruhaan Alva graduates from the Cadet class to the Junior class in the EasyKart Italia Championship
Young Ruhaan Alva competed in the EasyKart Italia Championship in 2017, his first full season of karting in Europe. Ruhaan competed in the Easy60 category of the championship, managing to notch a victory at the second round of the series held in South Garda. He then managed to take a second-place finish in the third round of the championship. The results over the course of the season ensured that he took home the second runner-up trophy in the overall championship. For 2018, Ruhaan will compete in the championship's Junior category, graduating from the Cadet class in which he competed ?last year.
Name: CS Santosh
2017 season: Dakar Rally, Merzouga Rally, Oilibya Rally of Morocco, Panafrica Rally
Best finish: 13th at Oilibya Rally of Morocco, 9th at Panafrica Rally
2018 season: Dakar Rally and select rally raids around the world
The 2018 season has gotten off to a good start for CS Santosh, who finished the Dakar Rally in 35th position.
CS Santosh, now a factory rider with the Hero MotoSports Team Rally outfit, has had a steady climb, as far as results go, in the world of cross country rallying. After beginning as a privateer, 2017 was a particularly good year for Santosh, who had the might of a factory team backing him. He might have only finished 47th in the Dakar's motorcycle category last year, but the results picked up after that. Santosh finished 17th in the Merzouga rally last year, did well to break into the top 15 at the Oilibya Rally of Morocco, after which he set his sights on the Dakar. The opening rally of 2018, while grueling and exhausting, ended well for Santosh. He finished 35th, his best finish at the event. In 2018, Santosh says he needs a lot more time in the saddle. In fact, he's out riding in the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm as we go to press, keen on defending his title. In addition to the Merzouga Rally and the Oilibya Rally of Morocco, Santosh says he will ride at a few more events, with rallies in Chile and Peru on the calendar. The goal is to break into the top 20 at the 2019 Dakar.
Name: KP Aravind
2017 season: Dakar Rally, Merzouga Rally, Oilibya Rally of Morocco, Panafrica Rally
Best finish: 15th at Oilibya Rally of Morocco, 12th at the Panafrica Rally
2018 season: Dakar Rally and select rally raids around the world
Long road to recovery for KP Aravind who ended the 2018 Dakar with a broken leg. But the goal is to get back on the motorcycle and train hard for Dakar 2019.
The 2017 season saw KP Aravind do rather a lot. He competed in his first ever Dakar rally. Got injured at that very rally. Spent some time off the motorcycle, recovering from those injuries, and also managed to get back on the saddle and compete in three rallies abroad. This included the Merzouga Rally where he finished 21st, the Oilibya Rally of Morocco where he finished 15th, and the Panafrica Rally where he took 12th place. Going into the 2018 Dakar rally, KP was quietly confident, saying to us that he believed he was better prepared for the Dakar than he'd been in his debut year. The stage results that he achieved were a testament to exactly that, with the Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team rider managing to run consistently, until a crash on Stage 5 put an end to his Dakar dreams. But even now, as he's recovering from his broken leg, Aravind has his sights set on getting back on his RTR 450. Competing in as many rallies as possible is the goal as he prepares for Dakar number three. He's going to have to make this one count.
Name: K Rajini
2017 season: Malaysian Superbike Championship
Best finish: 2nd place at Sepang
2018 season Malaysian Superbike Championship
K Rajini is hoping to reclaim his MSBK championship title in 2018.
K Rajini is perhaps the best example of an Indian rider who keeps soldiering on, despite the fact that he's often at a disadvantage in terms of sponsorship, or even in terms of racing equipment. After winning the Malaysian Superbike Championship in 2015, Rajini had to resort to crowdfunding in order to get a race seat for the 2016 season. While the 2016 season didn't go too well for him, he did much better in 2017, managing to finish second in the championship that too riding a 2014 Kawasaki ZX10R. For the 2018 season, Rajini makes a return to the Malaysian Superbike Championship, where he will try and get back his championship title. The Indian rider is also hoping to compete gain a wildcard entry to a couple of Moto2 races, but that is as yet subject to sponsorship. Given his age, though, for Rajini, it's now or never. On the domestic front, Rajini's RACR team will continue to field riders in the two-wheeler national racing championship.
Name: Rajiv Sethu
2017 season: Asia Road Racing Championship AP250 class
Best finish: 19th at Johor, Malaysia, 19th at Chennai, India
2018 season: Asia Road Racing Championship AP250 class
Another season in the in the ARRC's AP250 class for Rajiv Sethu in 2018.
Rajiv Sethu has three seasons of the Asia Road Racing Championship under his belt. It's been a steep learning curve for Sethu thus far, with his best performance in 2017 being no higher than 19th place in both races at the opening round of the championship at the Johor in Malaysia. He scored 19th place during the first race at Round 5 in Chennai too, and was looking set to take an impressive finishing position during the second race at the MMRT, when he crashed. Sethu is now part of the newly formed Idemitsu Honda Racing India team, which is managed by Ten10 Racing. This is a part of HMSI's attempts to grow domestic motorsport in the country, as well as ensure that young Indian riders now get a platform to showcase their talent to a global audience. There's no questioning Rajiv's talent as a rider, says Ramji Govindarajan of Ten10, who is in charge of managing him. However, the area that needs to be worked on is focus and mental conditioning. The goal for Rajiv in 2018 is to break into the top 10 of what is a very competitive grid.
Name: Anish D Shetty
2018 season: Asia Road Racing Championship AP250 class (debut international season)
Anish D Shetty makes his international racing debut in 2018 in the ARRC's AP250 class.
Anish D Shetty makes his international racing debut in 2018. In fact, at the time of going to press, he'd just got his first taste of international racing, having competed in the first round of the 2018 Asia Road Racing Championship. While he finished 20th in the first race, his second race at Buriram ended in a crash. However, Shetty has earned his place within the Idemitsu Honda Racing India team, having managed to challenge TVS Racing's K Jagan regularly in the Pro Stock category of the 2017 Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship. Rider manager, Ramji Govindarajan says that Shetty brings a unique sense of focus and preparation to everything he does, explaining that he is an engineer who graduated from his college as a gold medalist, works at Accenture, moonlights as a fitness instructor, and, in addition to all of that goes motorcycle racing. If he's able to come to terms with the motorcycle soon, a top 15 performance will be the goal. Expect to see good results at the Indian round of the championship.
Other Indian drivers racing abroad in 2018 include the likes of Tarun Reddy, Ricky Donison and Ameya Vaidyanathan, all of whom are expected to make a return to single seater racing. Parth Ghorpade might compete in 2018 in sportscars, after having had a quick stint in the Super Trofeo Middle East in the beginning of 2017. On two wheels, Udipta Kumar Rath will make a return to the Malaysian Superbike Championship, while Yuvraj Singh Konda will continue his international motocross campaign.
Aaroh Ravindra, reigning Indian National Karting Champion in the Senior Class is all set to go compete abroad.
Missing from our list of two-wheeler racers abroad is Sarath Kumar, who will concentrate on domestic racing in 2018. Plenty of Indian drivers in karting too, with Aaroh Ravindra (pictured above), the reigning Indian National Karting Champion getting ready for a campaign abroad. Other karters abroad include Shaurya Kapani, Danesh Vakharia, and Aryan Vashista, all of whom will compete in the Rotax Max Asia championship.
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