The roar of racing car engines reverberated around the NTR Gardens as for the Hyderabad leg of Indian Racing League (IRL) 2022 saw fans in awe and excitement on an action-packed Sunday.
Cold conditions and a wet track, with a slight drizzle off and on, prevailed. But that didn’t derail the season finale as the Godspeed Kochi drivers pressed down the throttle to cap off three straight wins on the final day to win the overall championship title.
Home team Hyderabad Blackbirds took the second spot, followed by Goa Aces who finished third in the championship table. Incidentally, Chennai Turbo Riders finished first at the end of the final race but its celebrations were cut short as the team was handed time penalty by the race stewards.
Kochi took the title with a grand total of 445.5 points, followed by the Hyderabad team which secured 367 points to grab the second position. While Goa Aces notched 294 points, Chennai finished fourth with 227 points.
Hyderabad secured the drivers’ championship title with Akhil Rabindra pipping teammate Neel Jani to win the title. Alister Yoong of Kochi made it to the podium as he finished third.
Akhil, the only Indian and the first Asian to be selected by the Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy, capped off a brilliant championship race with 143 overall points. Jani, the Swiss racer representing Hyderabad, finished with 137 points, while Yoong, Malaysia’s quickest teenager, collected 132 points to take the third spot.
Maneuvering tight corners and accelerating down the straights, the Kochi drivers exhibited panache, putting their driving skills on show as Nikhil Bohra and Ruhaan Alva took pole and second position respectively with the best lap time of 1:26.902s and 1:27.726s in the Qualifying 1 (Q1).
In Q2, Alister Yoong and Fabienne Wohlwend secured the first and the second spot with lap time of 1:26.073s and 1:26.592s.
The twist came in the feature race as the duo of Jon Lancaster and Sandeep Kumar representing Chennai was booked for time penalty which ultimately dragged down the yellow outfit by three places.
Kevin Mirocha and Gabriela Jilkova of Goa Aces drove with control and piloted sharp overtakes as Goa benefitted on the penalty to Chennai with sheer consistency all through the race to finish on the podium.
Hyderabad’s hopes of winning the title evaporated with ace driver Akhil suffering a car failure midway. Although the Bangalore-born driver drove with sheer willpower with speed being his ally, the 26-year-old’s lead shrank drastically, as Kochi took the chequered flag to end the season finale on a high.