Tharani takes maiden international win in Polo GTI Cup
Prashanth Tharani took his maiden international win in the first race of the Volkswagen Polo GTI Cup weekend at Jiangsu Wantrack Circuit in China.
The Indian returning to sprint racing after 2014, was invited by Dream Racing Team to compete in the first round of the new season.
Tharani started the weekend finishing second in the lone practice session on Saturday before the qualifying session for the two races.
In Q1, the Indian was aiming for the 10th quickest time, which would have given him a reverse grid pole for Race 2.
Tharani did clock the 10th fastest time but in the dying moments, his rival improved to drop him to 11th, thus the Indian missing on the reverse grid pole.
In Q2, Tharani managed the fourth fastest time on used tyres, ending marginally behind the top three finishers.
Hard fought Race 1 win
In the first race on Sunday morning, Tharani got off to a good start in damp conditions, gaining two spots in the opening lap, taking third place in Turn 2 while second place in Turn 7, after wheel to wheel action.
Midway in the race, the Indian tussled for the race lead with the Chinese driver as Tharani tried an undercut going into Turn 2.
The two remained side by side but eventually Tharani had to give up on that lap. He tried the same manouvere on the next lap and was able to get past in Turn 5.
From then on, it was controlling the race and the pace, eventually winning Race 1 by a comfortable margin of 2.8s.
"I wasn't feeling confident going into the race with just three sessions behind me, I knew that the more time I had with the car and tyres the faster I could go," he said.
"And so, I am absolutely elated to have my first international win."
Heartbreak in second race
In the second race, Tharani having started from 11th made up four places to go seventh in the opening lap of the race.
A brief safety car period aided the Indian on worn tyres, as he caught up with the battle for the race lead with three laps remaining.
But disaster struck Tharani as his Polo GTI lost power with three corners to go leading to a retirement as the Indian being classified 13th.
"I wasn't sure if I had the form or the sharpness that is required in a sprint racing championship.
"As I made one move after the other during the races, my confidence in grew and I found that I hadn't lost any of my sharpness," he said.
"It's been a weekend of self realisation and I've got the boost I needed."
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