Sowery edges closer to MRF Challenge series title
Chennai, January 24 (IANS) Toby Sowery, the 18-year-old driver from Britain, delivered a double Saturday to enhance his chances of winning the championship in the MRF Challenge series (Formula 2000) race in the third and concluding round.
The back-to-back victories took Sowery's tally to 191 points while compatriot and closest rival in the championship stakes Ryan Cullen, who finished eighth and fifth in the two races Saturday, is on 137. With two more races scheduled for Sunday with a maximum of 54 points available, Cullen still has a chance while Sowery needs just one point to seal the championship.
Both the F2000 races were marred by incidents. In the first race, Oscar King, starting third, hit Cullen who in turn nudged pole sitter Sebastian Balthasar. The German retired immediately as Cullen and King limped back to the pits and managed to get going again, albeit two laps down.
There was more action at the back with Laura Tillett, Dylan Young and Freddie Hunt all crashing as they looked to avoid the stricken cars at the front. After four laps behind the safety car, Sowery led away ahead of Tarun Reddy and Gustavo Myasava. However, a heavy drizzle at the back end of the circuit caught some drivers off guard and Reddy and Myasava were suddenly all over the leader. Sowery held on to win the race.
In Race 2, Vinicius Paparelli started on reverse grid pole along with Raj Bharath. The Indian took advantage of a slow start from Paparelli for the lead into the first corner. Paparelli retired on Lap 2 to put Sowery in second place with Myasava close behind him.
Raj, who was pulling away from the pack, went off at Turn-1 on lap 3, thus handing Sowery the lead. King passed Reddy on lap 5 to move into third position. Sowery went on to win, ensuring a fine double.
"It feels just fantastic to win here in Chennai and I just can't get enough of this brilliant circuit. Both races were really tough, but I am happy that I was able to move ahead and stay there," Sowery said. "The first race was close with rain at the back of the circuit which made me a little cautious. Reddy and Myasava caught me but managed to hold them off. Race 2 was easier after Raj went off and then it was just a matter of keeping Gustavo behind me."
Meanwhile, in the MMSC-FMSCI National Racing Championship that is being run concurrently, Chennai's Gautham Parekh took the honours in the MRF Formula Ford 1600 class in a tight race.
Sidharth B from Coimbatore came up with a late charge to win the honours in the Indian Junior Touring Cars race that was easily one of the better races on the day as he pulled off a fine overtaking move over Bengaluru's Ashish Ramaswamy who had started from pole position.
Among the other winners were Arjun Narendran who blitzed the Indian Touring Cars field and Mumbai's Varun V Anekar of Race Concepts who topped the Superstock class.
MRF Challenge (F2000) - Race 1 (15 laps): Toby Sowery (UK) 1 (28mins, 46.640secs); Tarun Reddy (India) 2 (28:47.153); Gustavo Myasava (Brazil) 3 (28:47.575). Race 2: Sowery 1 (24:00.595); Myasava 2 (24:04.052); Oscar King (UK) 3 (24:14.880).
MRF FF 1600 - Race 1 (10 laps): Gautham Parekh (Chennai) 1 (21:28.651); Karthik Tharani Singh (Chennai) 2 (21:29.303); Advaith Deodhar (Mumbai) 3 (21:30.106).
Indian Junior Touring Cars - Race 1 (10 laps): Sidharth B (Coimbatore) 1 (21:07.025); Ashish Ramaswamy (Bangalore) 2 (21:07.592); Fahad Kutty (Mumbai) 3 (21:07.843).
Indian Touring Cars - Race 1 (10 laps): Arjun Narendran (Red Rooster Racing) 1 (19:16.250); B Vijay Kumar (Prime Racing) 2 (19:35.721); G Siddhartha Kishore (Performance Racing) 3 (19:55.319).
Superstock - Race 1 (10 laps): Varun V Anekar (Race Concepts) 1 (19:39.362); Abhinay Bikkani (Race Concepts) 2 (20:28.088); Chandresh N Tolia (Team Game Over) 3 (20:53.957).
Super Bikes - Race 1 (6 laps): Sandesh P 1 (11:42.051); Siddhant S Koundinya 2 (12:16.518); K Yogeshwaran 3 (12:23.909).