Rayomand Banajee reigns supreme

COIMBATORE, AUG. 1. It was a race that Rayomand Banajee of India would cherish for long and Narain Karthikeyan, the fastest Indian in the world, would prefer to forget quickly.

The 24-year-old Rayomand, from Pune, the current reigning JK Tyre National karting champion, kept his cool right through to take the chequered flag well ahead of Jason Paul Carino of Philippines and Arya Setyaki of Indonesia in the JK Tyre Asia Zone National Kart Open 25-lap Rotax race for seniors at the Kari Motor Speedway in Chettipalayam near Coimbatore on Sunday.

Jason started on top of grid, followed by Rayomand and Setyaki. Narain qualified for the fourth spot in the pre-finals held earlier in the day.

Even before the race, the local hero was not so confident that he would win the race. Not that he lacked the skill, but he wasn't too sure about the behaviour of his car. And it did let him down.

A brilliant start and the top four drivers pulled away from the rest of the pack. On the first lap, Narain took Setyaki to move into the third position and by the end of the third lap it was an Indian 1-2 with Rayomand in the lead followed by Narain. That sent the crowd into raptures.

A very fast circuit saw the duo almost kissing each other at every possible corner and a slight contact saw Narain dropping into the third position after sustaining structural damage to the front of his kart. But the never-say-die speedster continued to race well only to find his engine shutting down his winning prospects.

With Narain dropping out, there were none to challenge Rayomand, who stayed calm and collected to win the race much to the joy of the large holiday crowd.

In the race for juniors, qualifying on the pole was Martin Luis Aguluri of Philippines. Leading the Indian charge, on the second row of the grid, was JK Tyre teen wonder Armaan Ebrahim and team-mate Aditya Akineni.

Armaan did a great job and had Martin guessing for most part of the race. But, just when he looked good to overtake the Filipino, he drove on the inside of Martin and dropped behind by a couple of kart lengths. And that did the damage towards the end.

Martin breathed a big sigh of relief and finished the race comfortably to take the crown. Armaan finished second.

Michele Marie Bumgarner of Philippines, as expected, put the boys to shame with her daring drive. She led from the start to the finish to win the Formula 100 Open. Charlie Charles of Malaysia finished a distant second followed by Imran Zaharias Shahrom of Malaysia.

The results:

Rotax Max Senior: Rayomand Banajee (Ind) 14:20.321, Jason Paul Carino (Phi), Arya Setyaki (Ina).

Rotax Max Junior: Martin Luis Aguluri (Phi) 15:44.121, Armaan Ebrahim (Ind), Syafig Bin Ali (Mal).

Formula Cadet W85: Mohammed Nabil (Mal) 10:24.018, Mitchel Gilbert, Senna SN (Ina).

JICA: Calvin Wong Weng (Mal) 14:14.468, Jazeman Firhan Jaafar (Mal), Gianmatteo Vittoro Guidicelli (Phi).

Formula 100 Open: Michele Marie Bumgarner (Phi) 16:43.249, Charlie Charlez (Mal), Imran Zaharias (Mal).

Rotax Max veteran: Marcel Thenu (Phi), Thomas Stockinger (Phi), James Leong (Mal).

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