Monza: India's Formula 1 hopeful Jehan Daruvala made a successful single seater debut at the historic Monza Circuit here by finishing fourth in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) season opener.
Sixteen-year-old Daruvala was only one of four drivers making their formula car debut amongst a highly competitive grid of 30 drivers. He finished just outside the podium in Race Two over the weekend, earning him the top rookie award.
A premature end to qualifying, brought by a red flag, resulted in the young Mumbaikar being caught out and having to settle for tenth on the grid for Race One. The opening race was a straightforward affair for the Sahara Force India Academy Driver as he started well and moved up two places to finish eighth, with Japanese driver Ukyo Sasahara winning the race.
Much more excitement was in store for Race Two. The teenager made a relatively slow start from fifth on the grid and was then squeezed wide entering the chicane. Taking a careful approach to the first lap, Daruvala lost out and fell to eight before eventually settling in seventh, with rival Alex Gill on his tail.
The duo fought hard and exchanged places over the next couple of laps, Daruvala using all the experience from his karting days to produce an impressive display of defensive driving. With three laps left, Daruvala managed to shake Gill off and quickly closed the gap with the cars ahead to join four other drivers in the battle for third place.
With two laps left, the racing got more intense, two of the drivers in front of Daruvala making contact. Kevin Jorg spun and Jehan skillfully avoided contact to gain sixth position. He immediately passed another car and then made a brilliant move on Dennis Olsen into the Ascari chicane to move into fourth, a position he managed to hold all the way to the finish. Swiss driver Louis Deletraz won the race by a 2.9 second margin.
Jehan was the top rookie driver in the event, receiving a trophy on the Monza podium, and now stands fourth overall in the championship standings with 30 points. "It was my first race weekend in a single seater and I qualified and finished in the top ten in both races. I struggled a bit with the car on Friday but the team did a
great job," said Daruvala.