The fourth and final round of the Volkswagen Ameo Cup 2017, held as part of the 2017 MRF FMSCI MMSC National Racing Championship, was packed with action as Karminder Pal Singh continued his dominance to take home the title. Not only did he prove his prowess with a win in the first wet race of the season at the Madras Motor Race Track, Chennai, but his aggressive driving to clinch second spot in the last race of the season gave him a 138-point lead in the championship. Behind him A Sandeep Kumar and Dhruv Mohite claimed the second and third spots in the title, while Anmol Singh took home the Junior Cup title.
Karminder Pal Singh claimed the 2017 Volkswagen Ameo Cup
The first race of the weekend - Race 8 in the series - on September 16 did not work in Karminder's favour as he finished seventh after starting eighth on the grid. As the lights went off Saurav Bandyopadhyay got a perfect launch from his pole position and maintained his lead for his second win of the season. Guest racer, Volkswagen Polo Cup China driver, Anning Sun finished second followed by Sandeep in third.
Saurav Bandhopadhyay leads the pack during the first race of the weekend
Karminder still had a 92-point lead going into the last two races on September 17. However, rainfall on the previous night had added another challenge for the racers, a damp, overcast track. Owing to this, all cars were quickly fitted with wet weather tyres, a first for all drivers of the MMSC VW Ameo Cup 2017.
This did not deter Karminder, and he managed to rack up an early lead, which kept increasing with each lap, until the last two laps when he slowed down as it began to drizzle once again. Irrespective, he finished with a 12.3-second lead over second-placed A Sandeep Kumar. Karminder told OVERDRIVE that the wet tyres performed even better than the slicks they had been used to, and that he had to change his lines as well as braking points to match the changed conditions. His effort showed as he picked up the championship with one race still left for the day, and the season.
Anmol Singh (Junior Cup), with VW Ameo Cup 2017 National Champion Karminder Singh, VW Motorsport India director Sirish Vissa, Dhruv Mohite (3rd) and A Sandeep Kumar (2nd)
While the last race of the Ameo Cup was to be a contest for the second and third spots on the championship table, it turned out to be a show of experience from guest driver Anning Sun. Karminder placed second after some very aggressive driving on the fifth lap that left his No 9 winning Ameo Cup car with a bruised front end, while leaving Donovan Vaz from Goa with a major drop in position from second on the grid to a 17th place finish. The champion ended the season with podiums in 9 of the 10 races and a 138-point lead.
As a part of the sponsorship programme run by Volkswagen Motorsport India, Karminder will switch to open-wheel racing with a fully-sponsored season in the MRF Formula 1600 championship for the next season. Sandeep, meanwhile, managed two podium finishes and a fourth-place finish in the last round to gain advantage over Saurav. Dhruv's great run on the last day of racing with a fourth place after starting from 17th, and a third-place finish, respectively, helped him snatch the third place in the championship from Saurav.
Guest driver from China Anning Sun (no.18) started from pole and won the last race of the season. Vissa with Anning (2nd), Saurav (1st), and Sandeep (3rd) after the first race
Anmol Singh who won the Junior Cup said, "This was my first ever racing campaign and I managed clean races in all the rounds of the season without any major damage. It was my aim to learn as much possible and not be aggressive and rash while chasing or defending during the season. I will now aim for podium finishes in the coming season."
Sirish Vissa, head of Volkswagen Motorsport India said that the season had been more exciting than the previous ones with the championship fight running into the last day. He also commended the pit team's quick response to the damp conditions by changing to wet tyres in a short time frame. Vissa said that while the cars have proved to be as reliable as they were this season, they will undergo many positive changes for the coming season. Next year, the VW Ameo Cup will aim to return to the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, where the previous seasons were hosted.
Champions Arjun Narendran (ITC), Anindith Reddy (F1600) and Arya Singh (F LGB 1300) with their trophies
Meanwhile, in the MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Racing Championship 2017, two champions emerged on September 16, 2017, with one whole race day left in the fifth and final round. Championship leader Anindith Reddy took home the MRF Formula 1600 class title despite not finishing the race, while young Arya Singh finished the day with the National and Rookie titles in the Formula LGB 1300 class.
A collision during the race, that cost Anindith the rear wing of his car, still left him with a 32-point lead over competitor Sandeep Kumar, who won the race. With two races to be run the next day and a maximum of 25 points at stake, Anindith's unsurpassable lead earned him the championship. This title also fetches him a ticket to the Mazda Road to Indy shootout in the USA later this year.
Anindith Reddy (no.2 car) set the pace during the MRF F1600 practice
In last two races on September 17, the champion finished second and third, respectively. Sandeep Kumar from Chennai, meanwhile, won all three races of the weekend matching Anindith's first-place tally of six for the season, which earned him second spot in the championship.
In the Formula LGB 1300 class, Arya Singh had a great outing finishing first and second, respectively, in the two races of the weekend. This earned him the National as well as Rookie titles in the class. The schoolboy from Kolkata was elated to win both titles but acknowledged that he did not have the pace for outright wins in both the races this weekend. "I have spent enough time learning from Anindith and Sandeep in the F1600 class, and now aim to give them tough competition in the bigger class," he told OVERDRIVE.
ITC championship leader Deepak Paul Chinappa (no.39 car) began the weekend from pole but fortune favoured Arjun Narendran (no.14) with the title
In the Indian Touring Cars class race on September 16, championship leader Deepak Paul Chinnappa of Race Concepts had begun from pole position and led for six laps, looking set for a win. However, his fortunes turned as a brake failure took him down to seventh position in the last two laps. Defending champion Arjun Narendran won the race, with Red Rooster Performance team-mate Ashish Ramaswamy in second. Arjun had ended the first day leading the championship with 169 points, while Deepak moved down to second with 157.
ITC Champion Arjun Narendran
The next day Arjun finished the season in style with his fifth straight win, taking home the Indian Touring Cars class title. He needed to finish third to claim the title, but he did two better by winning the race and keeping his title for the second year in a row.
Arjun eased past the front-row pair of B Vijayakumar and D Vidya Prakash in the second lap. Once in front, he made nary a mistake until the finish, followed by team-mate Ashish, and Vidya Prakash in third.
Chinnappa started the last race in the seventh position, got caught in traffic, had a spin and came in fourth, but still clocked the fastest lap of the race. He finished second in the championship.
Post-race scrutiny delayed the results for three classes. Later, Hisham EKP was announced champion in the Indian Junior Touring Cars class, Varun Anekar in the Super Stock class and Anant Pithawalla in the Esteem Cup.