It’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of: an Indian finishing on the podium, and that too in front of home fans at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC).
Aditya Patel lived this dream, not once but twice, while becoming the first Indian to climb on the podium at BIC. Driving in the fifth and penultimate round of the JK Racing Asia series, a support race for the Indian Grand Prix, the EuroInternational guest driver made it a wonderful weekend for the host when he took the third spot on the first day and went one better the next.
The 24-year-old Aditya was basking in the glow of the podium finishes when The Hindu caught up with him on Tuesday.
“It feels wonderful that I am the first Indian to get on the podium at BIC, but I am a touch disappointed that I could not finish on top. We could have heard our national anthem at BIC on both days as I was very close to winning,” he said.
What made Aditya’s drive special was that it was his maiden outing at the BIC while his competitors, including Akhil Khushlani who took the fourth spot on day one, had had a taste of the circuit last year.
Aditya, who had not got behind the wheels of a racing car since July, said he only had a 30-minute practice session before getting into qualifying. “Frankly, I wasn’t expecting anything as I had very little time to prepare. But, once I qualified fourth, I knew I had a chance to make the podium,” he said.
With the BIC providing ample opportunities for overtaking, there were thrills aplenty for the spectators as the drivers went full throttle in the 10-lap races. “The track was cleaned thoroughly this year, and the drivers and teams were quite happy to race on the track,” said Aditya.
Asked whether he bumped into any Formula One driver during the weekend, Aditya said: “No. I was so busy with my races that I couldn’t meet anyone. I would have loved to see [Fernando] Alonso as he’s my favourite. I like his driving style and feel he is a class apart.
“Though the Red Bulls and McLarens are quicker than his Ferrari, Alonso has managed to keep himself in the race for the drivers’ title. That’s why I admire him so much,” added Aditya.