Feilding (New Zealand) 14 Feb 2016: Sahara Force India Academy Racer, Jehan Daruvala, rounded off his maiden Toyota Racing Series New Zealand on a high. The Indian teenager finished runner-up in the overall championship after a good weekend where he had one pole position and one second place finish.
Jehan entered the fifth and final round lying fourth overall in the championship table and knew it was important for him to finish consistently amongst the top five. Quick in practice at the 3km long Manfeild Autocourse, Jehan topped the timesheets of an extremely close first qualifying session with a time of 1:02.492. The top three were within six hundredths of a second, as Norris was second just 0.03 seconds behind Jehan while Brazilian Piquet, was just 0.062 seconds behind Jehan.
Qualifying two was even closer as the series witnessed its closest qualifying session. This time the top three were all within one hundredth of a second, as Norris topped the timesheet with a lap time of 1:02.145 ahead of Piquet and Jehan who managed to clock the exact same lap time, down to a thousandth of a second! They both had a lap time of 1:02.162!
Jehan, starting on pole for race one, got bogged down a bit as the lights went out and relinquished his top spot to Norris. Soon, Piquet and Markelov of Russia made contact and the safety car was brought out while Piquet had to retire. Jehan lost two places and fell to fourth at the restart, before the safety car was deployed once again. This time Jehan retained his position while race leader Norris fell to third. The race was won by Ferdinand Habsburg while Jehan’s fourth place finish ensured he moved from fourth to second in the championship table.
Race two starting grid was based on the top eight finishers of race one being reversed. Jehan started fifth and had a good start to move into third. The seventeen-year-old was very quick and he proceeded to chase down the front runners. He soon made a good move on Antoni Ptak and moved into second. Jehan then closed the gap to race leader Brendon Leitch but was not able to make a move to pass him. Leitch won less than a second ahead of Jehan, while Ptak was third.
Jehan started from third in race three, but was overtaken at the start by Markelov. On lap two, Jehan ran wide and fell down to ninth. A few laps before the end he managed to overtake Ferrari Academy racer Zhou to finish the race in eighth. Jehan benefitted and moved up a position into seventh, after Piquet was handed a post-race penalty.
“I knew I couldn’t afford any major mistakes coming into the last round. The two qualifying sessions were the closest I have been in. I really enjoyed climbing up the order in the reverse grid race, to second. Second in the overall championship, amongst a really competitive line-up, means a lot to me. I must thank the Sahara Force India Academy for the valuable support and also a big thank you to M2 Competition for giving me a fantastic car all through the championship,” said Jehan.
Jehan’s quick pace and consistent results in the first two races this weekend ensured he comfortably retained and finished second in the overall championship. Lando Norris was the champion ahead of Jehan, while Brendon Leitch was third. Three victories in addition to multiple podiums, summarise Jehan’s strong and consistent performance in his maiden campaign inthe Toyota Racing Series. The series this year has had one of its most competitive line-ups with racers including Pedro Piquet (Twice Brazilian F3 Champion and son of F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet), Lando Norris (Former World Karting Champion and F4 Champion), Guanyu Zhou (Ferrari Academy Driver), Artem Markelov (Former German F3 runner up and GP2 racer)
Jehan, Vice Runner Up at the World Karting Championship in 2014, made the jump from karting to cars only last year. The Sahara Force India Academy racer’s past important milestones are the British KF3 Champion, CIK FIA Asia Pacific KF3 Champion, Malaysian Yamaha Karting Champion and JK Tyre Indian National Rotax Karting Champion. Numerous channels and magazines have also awarded Jehan, their Motorsport Award.
Next week, Jehan will begin testing in Europe. He will be contending for two separate championship titles, the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup Series and the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC.
Final Championship Standings –
- Lando Norris, England – 924 Points
- Jehan Daruvala, India – 789 Points
- Brendon Leitch, New Zealand – 754 Points
Jehan’s Career so far –
2009 – Started Karting with Rayo Racing
2010 – Champion – JK Tyre Rookie Cup
– Champion – JK Tyre FMSCI National Karting Championship (Micro Max)
2011 – Champion – Malaysian Yamaha Karting Championship (Junior)
2012 – Selected into the Sahara Force India Academy
– Champion – CIK FIA Asia Pacific KF3 Championship
2013 – Retained as sole member of the Sahara Force India Academy
– Champion – British KF3 Championship
2014 – 2nd Runner Up – World Karting Championship
– Vice Champion – German KF Karting Championship
2015 – Enters Formula Car Racing (Formula Renault 2.0)
– 4 Podiums + 5 Best Rookie Trophies
2016 – Runner up – Toyota Racing Series