Christchurch, Jan 19 (IANS) Sahara Force India Academy racer Jehan Daruvala started his 2016 campaign on a high note, winning one of New Zealand’s most prestigious events – the Lady Wigram Trophy. It was Jehan’s maiden victory in Formula cars since making the switch from karting last year. Jehan’s debut in the Toyota Racing Series at the Ruapuna Park circuit on Monday did not begin in ideal fashion. He took the time to come up to speed in practice and some downtime due to electrical issues did not help his situation. In Qualifying 1 Jehan managed the eighth position.
Qualifying 2 proved to be worse as the session was red flagged for a brief period. Most drivers used this period to change from wet tyres to slicks but Jehan opted to remain on wets. This initially proved to be the right decision as, once the session started, Jehan was soon fastest. However, the track dried faster than expected and he fell rapidly down the timesheets, ultimately qualifying 15th out of 18 racers. At the start of Race 1, Jehan lost a position, but soon recovered and had a straightforward finish at eighth.
The reverse of the top-eight would be the starting positions for Race 2. Jehan, therefore, started on the pole for Race 2 but made one of his worst starts to fall down to ninth. The situation got even worse after he was hit from behind under a yellow flag and fell to 16th. He made his way back to finish 13th. Jehan was most determined to make the most of Race 3, starting in 15th. The race started in damp conditions with all drivers on slicks. Jehan made a couple of positions at the start. The drizzle increased and Jehan’s teammate Pedro Piquet, son of Former F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet, pitted for wet tyres. He gained a lot of time on wets and Jehan was called into the pits. After the stop, Jehan was a lap behind race leader Lando Norris. Jehan started carving his way up the field as he first unlapped himself from the race leader and then started overtaking others.
A few drivers in front also pitted for wet tyres which gave Jehan a further advantage. The turning point came when the safety car was deployed, negating the advantage of the drivers in front. All drivers were bunched up and only Pedro was on wets in front of Jehan. The safety car pulled into the pits and Jehan did not put a foot wrong. He overtook Pedro and then one-by-one overtook the others, including some from around the outside of the hairpin corner. Within one lap, Jehan had moved from seventh to first and continued to pull away. The safety car was deployed once again and the race was stopped, earning Jehan his maiden victory in Formula cars.
“My first two races were not ideal. Race 3 was really enjoyable. I really have to thank the team for making the right decision of putting me onto wet tyres at the right time. The safety car helped me close the gap and from then on I just had to make sure I made no mistake,” said Jehan. “I am very happy to have finally won my first race. I still need to gain some pace and also work on my race starts.”