With a maximum of 50 points on offer, championship leaders Narayanaswamy Leelakrishnan and Feroze Khan need just 17 apiece from this weekend’s fifth and final round of the MMSC-FMSCI National Racing Championship at the Buddh International Circuit here to clinch titles in their respective categories.
In contrast, Ashwin Sundar has already sealed the championship in MRF Formula 1600 with six wins and three podiums from 10 starts for a tally of 201 points, well clear of second-placed Vikash Anand (132), who though needs to keep an eye on 15-year-old Tarun Reddy (130) running third.
Veteran Leelakrishnan, who heads the Coimbatore-based Big Foots Racing team, leads last year’s winner Arjun Balu of Tiger Sports by 34 points in the Indian Touring Cars class while defending champion Feroze (Rad Racing) enjoys a 34-point lead over V.J. Senthil in the Indian Junior Touring Cars (IJTC) going into the final round of the championship this weekend.
Leelakrishnan, the former multiple National Rally champion, has more than made up for his disappointing show last year when Balu, then driving a Honda City, ran away with the championship.
However, this season, Leelakrishnan is back with a bang piloting his modified Maruti Esteem with great panache, winning six of the 10 races while Balu, in a new Volkswagen Vento, has been struggling with just two wins and four other podiums.
The battle between Leelakrishnan and Balu has been one of the highlights of the season. Last year, Balu, having garnered 168 points, skipped the final round here when Leelakrishnan won both the races, but still finished one point behind in the championship. This season, the roles have reversed with Leelakrishnan delivering dominant performances.
Likewise, Feroze, despite two blank outings, won the 2012 title with 10 points to spare and ahead of Fahad Kutty, who is absent this season. In the event, Feroze, son of former national champion Ayub Khan, has had little or no opposition this year with five wins from 10 starts for 141 points with Charen Chandan (Mega Racing) in second with 107.Feroze had actually won all three races in the previous round at Chennai last month but was stripped of his points on a technicality following post-race scrutiny of his car. The loss of 75 points, though has injected some interest in the IJTC class, but given the Feroze's form, he should still win the double-header without much ado.
In Formula 1600, Sundar has been near-invincible despite the presence of a couple of Japanese drivers, who though are not eligible for any championship points.
As well as Sundar has driven this year, one of the highlights has been young Tarun Reddy who marked his debut season with three wins and two other podium finishes and another strong performance this weekend should take him past Vikash Anand in the standings.