X1Racing: Rahel Frey takes P2 in Indian championship inaugural race
India's first racing league kicked-off at Buddh International Circuit with Rahel Frey claiming a second place finish for DG Races
The opening weekend of the inaugural X1 Racing League went underway at the former F1-venue of Buddh International Circuit, Delhi.
Built around an innovative franchise concept, X1 Racing League lines up 12 cars from 6 racing teams, inspired by major Indian cities. With two drivers per car (the Mygale single seaters previously employed in Formula BMW championships) and each team featuring one international female racing driver, the brand-new series has attracted some high profile names: W-Series drivers Alice Powell and Gosia Rdest, Indy 500 veteran Pippa Mann, ELMS teammates Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting, as well as GT regular Christina Nielsen.
They are joined on each team by an international driver and a local Indian racer, in order to further develop the local talent pool.
The two selected teammates went into qualifying this morning both setting a flying lap in each car: lap times of the two drivers in each car were then combined, setting the grid for the first weekend's race. The two sprint races (30 minutes + 1 lap) will then feature a mid-race driver swap, a first for single seater racing.
The first ever X1 Race started with the Bangalore team getting pole position, with a driver's duo composed of former F2 driver Arjun Maini and experienced Brit Oliver Webb.
Behind them, DG Races' car of local driver Krishnaraaj Mahadik and Rahel Frey.
With several technical gremlins affecting the cars this weekend, the start procedure was slightly delayed due to a couple of teams struggling to make the grid. Ultimately, the AD Racing Delhi car driven by Mathias Lauda and Christina Nielsen could not take the start to the first race.
At the race start, Maini lost the lead to Mahadik, with Arjun's brother Kush Maini following closely in third. On the long straight leading to turn 4, Maini took the first position back after a lock-up by Mahadik, who had to defend second as well from Kush Maini behind.
At the hairpin, rally driver Gaurav Gill outbraked himself and crashed into former F1 racer Vitantonio Liuzzi, who had to retire soon after with significant rear wing damage. This incident affected Gosia Rdest day, who wasn't able to get behind the wheel for the second stint and with such a little time between the two races, the Black Birds Hyderabad team will have to work extra hard to fix the damages in time for the second grid.
Starting from 8th on the grid Alice Powell was the only woman racer in the first race stint and she immediately made some positions to advance into top 5 in the opening laps.
Kush Maini overtook Mahadik for second on lap 5, while the race leader was the first one to enter the pits as soon as the pit window opened with 17 minutes to go.
Arjun Maini left his car in the hands of Oliver Webb, as Pippa Mann got behind the wheel of the Mumbai Falcons car. Pippa rejoined ahead of Webb, but was then passed on track by Webb with a clean move at turn 4.
Rahel Frey started her stint with 15 minutes left on the clock, just as Alice Powell handed over to Parthiva Sureshwaren. Swiss racer Frey also jumped Mann on track and started to chase down race leader Webb, who had opened up a gap of over 4.6 seconds.
In the closing stages Pippa Mann signed the fastest lap of the race but was then caught and overtaken by teammate Mikkel Jensen for third after an exciting side-by-side action and , on the last lap, she lost fourth to local racer Rabinda.
Webb crossed the line to take the first ever X1 Racing league victory, ahead of Rahel Frey and Mikkel Jensen.
Pippa Mann finished fifth, ahead of Powell/Sureshwaren in sixth. Michelle Gatting was forced to retire in the second half of the race due to technical issues, while both Rdest and Nielsen could not effectively take part in the race.
The second race will go underway shortly, featuring a reverse grid.
X1 Racing League coverage is made possible thanks to the cooperation with Soumil Arora
Ph credits: Iron Dames