After notching up five podium finishes, Indian targets elusive win in racing championship
Traditionally Indians have not excelled in motorsports. However, Gautam Singhania is half-way to proving that wrong, thanks to his exploits at the Ferrari Challenge Europe Championship 2015.
Gautam Singhania interacts with reporters at Worli’s Mahindra Towers yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
The Chairman and Managing Director of Raymond Limited has already racked up five podium finishes from eight races in his first full season in the championship — a run of results that has come as a surprise even to the 49-year-old.
"I didn't even think I'd get second and third place finishes (before the season started). I've finished five out of eight races on the podium which is pretty rewarding. The results are encouraging. The target now is to get at least one win," he told reporters yesterday.
After the first weekend at Italy's Monza, where he finished third in the first two races, Singhania could not claim any points at the third and fourth race of the competition held at Mugello. He followed that up with a second place finish at Hungaroring and a third and second place finish at Le Castellet last week.
The podium finishes shot him up to third in the drivers' standings in his maiden season — an achievement, considering current championship leader Jacques Duyver (Kessel Racing) has been racing in the event for four years, while Erich Prinoth (Ineco) has been racing for nearly 16 years. Moreover, the event is a one-make series, meaning that all the cars are identical in terms of performance.
Hardwork and challenges
"In the first year, we're doing okay. There's a lot of hardwork going into it — at each circuit I've done at least 1,000-1,200 kms of testing. At Paul Ricard (Le Castellet), I did 1,700-1,800 kms of testing. To learn each circuit has been a challenge. You learn 90% of the circuit in one hour. To learn the balance 10%, it'll take you two days.
"The other competitors know the circuits while I'm just learning them. So, there's a huge amount of additional work I have to do. If there's testing at a circuit, I have to fly to Europe, whereas the other drivers all live there. So, I also have the jet-lag to contend with," Singhania said.
The Mumbai-based business tycoon added that the other challenge for him is balancing his responsibilities as the Chairman and Managing Director of Raymond Limited with his racing career.
"The challenge is really balancing the whole thing now. I finished the Paul Ricard leg of the competition on Sunday. On Monday night I was back in Mumbai, and then back to business. I'm really trying to find some rest," he said.
The next races of the season will be held at Imola in September, while the season will culminate with the World Finals in November at Mugello. Does he think he can finish the season at No 1?
"There are six more races left in the championships. Anything can happen. If I can have a bad weekend, so can somebody else," he said.