MRF race thrills Coimbatore

Motor Sports in India has never had it so good. Narain Karthikeyan's maiden A-1 grand prix win for India.

updated: December 20, 2007 16:19 IST
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Motor sports in India has never had it so good. Narain Karthikeyan's maiden A-1 grand prix win for India, Karun Chandhok testing for a Formula One team and now more participation in the MRF Racing Challange.

The second round of the event was held at the Kari Speedway near Coimbatore with the number of cars in the fray up from last year.

The atmosphere was electric and so was the music. About 70 cars and 30 riders took part in the MRF Racing Challenge which was largely uneventful but for a lucky escape for Arjun Balu after his car caught fire.

Balu eventually finished second in the Super 2000 class.

It was National Rally Champion Gaurav Gill who took first place in that race, but not before an off track excursion of his own.

But the race of the day came from Navaz Sandhu who's quite appropriately been named the Tarmac Queen. Even though she was racing after 14 years, Navaz fought her way up from middle of the grid to win 2 races on Sunday.

Racing, in fact, seems to run in the family.

The Sandhus hogging the limelight for this year, but the competition promises to be tougher the next time.

"There is an increase of about 20 compared to the previous race. We have also about 30 riders," said Gill.

Things change and improve in the same pace we might even have an international challenge from next year. We have invited drivers and riders from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Second round of MRF International Racing Challenge drew to a fiery close on Sunday in more ways than one at the Kari Speedway here.

Arjun Balu, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia, had a miraculous escape as his car caught fire after he rear-ended Janaka Nishanta's Subaru Impreza in the Super 2000-GT Cars race.

The contact occurred early in the 10-lap race, but Balu continued to run. The engine subsequently caught fire from an oil leak. A fire tender was on hand to douse the flames.

Nadeera Jinasena of Sri Lanka in a Mitsubishi Evo 7 went on to win the race that, unlike Saturday, was uneventful but for Balu's mishap and an off-track excursion by Gaurav Gill, also in a Cedia.

Gill too was fortunate as he ploughed into the sand at the end of the start-finish straight after he lost a gear, but corrected to get back on track.

Meanwhile, Navaz Sandhu, nicknamed Tarmac Queen, yet again underlined her status as one of the top drivers in the country despite being out of competition for 14 years due to marriage and motherhood.

Navaz won two races Sunday like she did Saturday after battling hard with experienced racers like Radha Selvaraj, B Vijaykumar and Subhash Chandra Bose, the oldest competitor at 58.

Displaying amazing car control and aggression, Navaz, despite starting mid-grid, powered her way to the front and then hung on grimly despite close attention.

Incidentally, her husband, Karandip Singh, making his track debut, won the Super 1600cc category with a brilliant drive in a Ford Fiesta in a race that produced wheel-to-wheel racing through the 10 laps.