X1Racing: Gosia Rdest takes podium in first race, Bangalore claims title
The inaugural season of the X1 Racing League came to a closure with a remarkable performance by Gosia Rdest in the first race to claim her first podium. Bangalore Racing Stars (and Michelle Gatting) took home the title.
Sunday's busy schedule of three races at Madras Motor Race Track wrapped up the inaugural season of X1 Racing League, the brand-new category co-founded by Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim that aims at reviving Indian motorsport status.
After last weekend's Delhi leg, teams headed to Chennai for the second and last round of the championship, but series organizers were forced to move all the racing action to Sunday due to "unforeseen logistical circumstances". This meant that the two practice sessions, qualifying and the three races (instead of four) had to be executed in rapid sequence.
The day opened with Mumbai Falcons setting the pole position for the opening race, ahead of Rahel Frey's DG Races car.
It was another hectic race, ultimately won by Mumbai's main competitors in the title fight: Arjun Maini and Oliver Webb crossed the line to take victory for Bangalore Racing Stars by less than a second over Kush Maini and Mikkel Jensen.
The first session was again defined by countless technical issues that halved the field: only six out of twelve cars made it to the chequered flag, impacting the rest of the day for most of the drivers.
Amidst a Safety Car that influenced the team's strategies and that played in favour of the Bangalore duo, Alice Powell saw her day coming to an abrupt end when her car suffered an engine misfire while in fourth place. The British W-Series driver, who was still recovering from an health issue, was forced to retire.
Rahel Frey and Krishna Mahadik ran at the front in the opening stages, before being handed a drive through penalty and dropping to the back. The DG Races car also incurred in some more technical problems and retired.
The same fate befell Pippa Mann and Karthik Tharani, who suffered an engine failure in the second Mumbai Falcon's car, just like Reddy/Narendran, Gill/Rangasamy and Gilbert/Aradhya.
Among the first race chaos, Polish Gosia Rdest shone and brought home a remarkable third place in the Blackbirds Hyderabad car, co-driven by former F1 driver Tonio Liuzzi. Gosia finally had a cleaner run after the unfortunate Delhi round and could capitalize with her first podium finish in the series.
Michelle Gatting also lamented reliability problems, but brought the car home in 5th, ahead of the AD Delhi squad of Mira Erda and Sandeep Kumar.
With teams struggling to line up two cars for the upcoming second race, race organizers were forced to change the race format to one-car per team for the rest of the day. This meant that each team could now line up two drivers only and they opted to sideline all the female drivers for both the second and third races.
Rally driver Gaurav Gill started from reverse grid pole in the Delhi car for the second round and held the lead in the opening laps, while behind him it was an exciting battle between Mumbai and Hyderabad for second. Mikkel Jensen moved up to second and, with 17 minutes left on the clock, found a way past Gill for the lead.
Drivers swaps saw some more frantic action in the pitlane, with the rejoining DG Races car of Mandody hitting and spinning the slowing car of Jensen. Luckily, no team member was injured in the incident and Kush Maini incredibly rejoined the race in the lead after the driver change.
Bangalore drivers Oliver Webb and Arjun Maini had a difficult first stint but then recovered towards the end to claim third, behind AD Delhi's first podium finish in second.
The third and final race of the X1 Racing calendar featured Dane Mikkel Jensen starting from pole, with the Bangalore powerhouse losing second to Rabindra's Hyderabad car.
Alex Yoong pitted as soon as lap one for DG Races, with his car visibly losing power and ultimately retiring.
Webb passed Rabindra but could not close the massive gap that Mikkel Jensen was able to open in the first half of the race.
After the last driver change of the championship, Kush Maini emerged on top with an 8 seconds advantage from his brother Arjun, while Liuzzi brought the Blackbirds Hyderabad car once again in third. The race went on relatively uneventful until the chequered flag, with Mumbai winning the race and Bangalore finishing second. The runner-up spot was enough though to claim the inaugural X1 Racing League title.
Despite the invited ladies drivers having their days heavily affected by the cars' reliability, Michelle Gatting could celebrate her team's victory and Pippa Mann added a Vice-Champion title to her resumé.
Gatting and Frey will be back on track as teammates next weekend for the Gulf 12Hours, as they will be joined by Manuela Gostner and Deborah Mayer at Kessel Racing for the classic endurance race at Yas Marina Circuit.
X1 Racing coverage is made possible thanks to the cooperation with Soumil Arora. Check out his social profiles and give him a follow!
Cover ph credits: Blackbirds Hyderabad
Other ph: Bangalore Racing Stars