Arjun Balu annexes crown in third attempt

Coimbatore veteran Arjun Balu (Race Concepts) finally got the monkey off his back by taking the title in the premier Indian Touring Class in his third attempt in the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Car Racing Championship which concluded at the MMRT, here on Sunday.

Also clinching the drivers’ titles in their respective categories were Mamallapuram’s Raghul Rangasamy of Performance Racing (Super Stock), 17-year old Bengaluru collegian Tijil Rao of Momentum Motorsport (Formula LGB 1300) and Thrissur’s Diljith TS (MRF Saloon Car series).

Balu, who was runner-up in the previous two seasons, endured a difficult, rain-affected weekend and did just enough to pick up crucial points by winning Race-1 and finishing second in Race-2 before retiring in Race-3 after a shunt. Dhruv Mohite of FB Motorsport won a double to help his team take the team championship.

A hugely relieved Balu, after sealing the championship with a race to spare, said: “After winning Race-1, I knew I needed just seven points from Race-2 to clinch the championship. So, I held position through the 10 laps for P2. This championship win is most special and most satisfying for me. The previous two seasons, I missed the title by a whisker (to Ashish Ramaswamy and Dhruv Mohite) despite enjoying big leads early on. This title is also a tribute to Joel Joseph and his Race Concepts team which worked so hard, sparing no effort to make sure I get a competitive car.”

“This is our first championship win in six years. It has been a long and difficult journey with many ups and downs, but eventually, we clinched the title. I owe it to all the members of the Race Concepts team that worked long and hard to get us here,” said Joel Joseph.

Meanwhile, Rangasamy made up for a non-finish in Race-1 by surging to win in the next two outings for the title. In contrast, young Tijil Rao went without a win this weekend, but three podium finishes in the four races ensured him the crown.

The 2020 season was drastically impacted by the pandemic and was reduced to three rounds instead of the scheduled five. The first round was held in February and the remaining two this month behind closed doors while following the Covid-19 protocols.

The results (Provisional):

Indian Touring Cars: Race-1 (8 laps): 1. Arjun Balu (Race Concepts) (15mins, 31.003secs); 2. Keith D’Souza (FB Motorspor) (15:35.528); 3. Dhruv Mohite (FB Motorsport) (15:42.847). Race-2 (10 laps): 1. Mohite (19:34.316); 2. Balu (19:36.706); 3.D’Souza (19:37.940). Race-3 (8 laps): 1. Mohite (15:49.069); 2. D’Souza (15:49.378); 3. Varun Anekar (Race Concepts) (16:31.373).

Super Stock: Race-1 (8 laps): 1. Alisha Abdullah (Race Concepts) (16:41.042); 2. Vineet Abhiram (Race Concepts) (17:02.885); 3. Sridhar Nagaraj (Race Concepts) (17:24.841). Race-2 (10 laps): 1. Raghul Rangasamy (Performance Racing) (20:27.517); 2. Raja Rajan (Performance Racing) (20:28.739); 3. Rithvik Thomas (Race Concepts) (20:43.616). Race-3 (8 laps): 1. Rangasamy (16:33.837); 2. Alisha (16:50.086); 3. Sridhar Nagaraj (16:52.214).

MRF Saloon Car Series: Race-1 (8 laps): 1. Sreeram Sridhar (Chennai) (17:30.244); 2. Diljith TS (Thrissur) (17:31.226); 3. Chandresh Tolia (Mumbai) (17:42.636). Race-2 (10 laps): 1. Chetan Korada (Chennai) (19:35.644); 2. Diljith (19:38.741); Sreeram (19:42.939). Race-3 (8 laps): 1. A Balaprasath (Chennai) (17:24.875); 2. Korada (17:26.241); 3. Diljith (17:27.661).

Formula LGB 1300: Race-1 (8 laps): 1. Viswas Vijayaraj (DTS Racing) (15:30.277); 2. Tijil Rao (Momentum Motorsport) (15:30.408); 3. Prithveen Rajan (Joba Racing) (15:30.588). Race-2 (10 laps): 1. Prithveen Rajan (Joba Racing); 2. Mohamed Ryan (M Sport); 3. Tijil Rao. Race-3 (8 laps): 1. A Balaprasath (M Sport) (15:23.138); 2. Raghul Rangasamy (M Sport) (15:29.350); 3. Ryan (15:29.724). Race-4 (7 laps): Viswas Vijayaraj (15:26.300); 2. Chirag Ghorpade (Momentum Motorsport) (15:27.162); 3. Tijil Rao (15:28.427).

National Champions:

Indian Touring Cars: Driver – Arjun Balu (Coimbatore, Race Concepts, 151 points). Team – FB Motorsport (262)

Super Stock: Driver – Raghul Rangasamy (Mamallapuram, Performance Racing, 154). Team – Race Concepts (289).

MRF Saloon Car Series: Diljith TS (Thrissur, 113).

Formula LGB 1300: Driver – Tijil Rao (Bengaluru, 122). Team – Momentum Motorsport (215).  

A journalist with more than eight years of experience in print and online media. Covered I-League, Indian Super League, Pro Kabaddi League, Motorsports, local sports, features, and Pune news. Also passionate about Travel, Auto, Food, and Aviation.