Ameo Cup 2017: Round 3

As the 2017 season of Volkswagen Motorsport India’s flagship one-make series Ameo Cup progresses here is brief recap of the first two rounds. Four races four different winners. With results like this, the penultimate round was all set to deliver top-notch action as its sets the stage for the final in September.

Finishing on podium every race of the season so far – Karminder enhanced his points tally with 216 points with the next challenger, Dhruv Mohite trailing by 50 points. Dhruv (166), with two podium finishes, has surprised one and all with his phenomenal pace despite racing touring cars for the first time. He is followed closely by Sandeep Kumar (156 points) in third place overall. Behind the top three racers is Saurav Bandyopadhyay (122), seen on the grid for the first time since Volkswagen Polo Cup in 2012. Debutant Anmol Singh is holding down the fifth place as he leads the junior drivers with 118 points.

Chennai, August 18,  2017

As anticipated Round 3 was going to be unpredictable and full of surprises, and so it was. The three days of the event were filled with fierce racing and unbelievable action. Due to a heavy downpour in Chennai, the Ameo Cup 2017 Round 3 races were reduced to the short loop of the circuit owing to water logging on a part of the long loop of the track. Under these conditions, it was a new track layout that all the drivers were faced with. The track length was now 2.1 km from 3.7 km, similar to the length of the Kari Motor Speedway Coimbatore. The weekend started with a Free Practice session followed by a Qualifying session. Saurav Bandyopadhyay made a major came back from his former national racing years by clocking the fastest lap time of 1:06.746. He followed the same momentum in the qualifying round and got himself a pole position in the first race of the weekend. This was a surprise as he had damaged his car significantly during paid practice sessions on Thursday. Title favorite Karminder qualified on the second spot of the grid followed by his toughest competitor Sandeep.

Chennai, August 19,  2017

It was a privilege to have Mr. Bernhard Gobmeier Director of Volkswagen Group Motorsport come to the event and flag off the first race of the weekend. He was impressed by the car and the enthusiasm at the event. He keenly watched the race and enjoyed every bit of it.

Saurav at the pole position on the start grid dominated the race. Getting off the line with a perfect launch, he made sure that he was not caught by Karminder into turn one of the first lap. On the other hand, it was Sandeep who got closer to Karminder and kept attacking for the second position. While Saurav kept building his lead in the front, Karminder defended his second position from Sandeep. The battle for second position kept getting intense as Sandeep refused to give up. Ultimately, by the tenth lap, Sandeep started losing grip from his tyres and started falling back. While the two fought for the second position, Dhruv caught up with them but was unable to get past the two drivers.

Having concluded the first race of the weekend, Mr. Sirish Vissa, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India, said “The weather conditions at Chennai have been extreme with rain playing a spoil sport early on during free practice and today with extreme heat. The short loop was a new playing field for all.” He further added, “I have to congratulate Saurav as well as Karminder and Sandeep for keeping it cool and driving a good race today.”

Chennai, August 20,  2017

The final day of the race weekend was much cooler than the previous days. The second race of the weekend was with a reverse grid. Rohit Goyal started on pole joined by Donovan Vaz on the front row. Jeet Jhabak and Dhruv started behind them on the second row. Winners of Race 1 Saurav , Karminder and Sandeep started in eighth, seventh and sixth position respectively behind Aditya Pawar who was fifth.

Karminder’s chase to the front was worth the watch. He grabbed every single opportunity and got through all the gaps very efficiently. With the first chance Karminder got along with Donovan, he squeezed past him and Donovan could do nothing to prevent it. In spite of starting from the front row of the grid Donovan couldn’t keep up the pace on the short loop and lap after lap lost several positions. Only after the race did it became evident why. One of the tyres on Donovan’s car was badly damaged through the race providing little grip. Donovan’s misfortune played to Jeet’s advantage and he came in second scoring his first ever podium. There was a tough competition between Sandeep and Dhruv for the final position on the podium, but Dhruv made it. He was determined to maintain his position in the top three and fought for it till the end.

All the action in the race had caused quite a lot of damage to the cars and as the next race for the day was just in an hour it was a real challenge for the technical team to get the cars fixed and ready. The crew took up this challenge hands on and did a fantastic job by showcasing amazing team work to successfully put all the cars together in time for the following race.

The third race of the weekend started under hotter conditions as compared to the morning race. Saurav had an extremely good start and led the pack in to the first corner. Karminder stayed right on Saurav’s tail waiting for the right time to make a move. Exiting the last corner of the first lap, Saurav hit a patch of track that was slippery from an oil spill and lost a bit of pace. This gave Karminder the chance to make a move on Saurav two corners later. Karminder had very cleverly maintained a fresh set of tyres for the last race. Even without the misfortune Saurav endured, it would have been difficult to keep Karminder at bay. Dhruv moved a spot up in the second lap itself and from there on the race leaders remained the same past the chequered flag. Rest of the race turned out to be a rather processional one with hardly any places being exchanged at the top. However, all through the est of the pack, drivers had intense battles for their positions.

An ecstatic, Mr. Sirish Vissa, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India, commented, “The first race of the day was action packed with racers exchanging positions and fighting hard to gain positions. This is what we would like to see – fierce competition with equal race machines at their disposal.” He further added,
“Changing weather conditions throughout the weekend made it extremely difficult for all the drivers. However, hats off to all of them – they kept it super competitive, yet extremely clean throughout.”