Jehan Daruvala Creates History By Winning New Zealand Grand Prix -
Jehan Daruvala Creates History By Winning New Zealand Grand Prix
Posted 15 Feb 2017 12:46 PM

Sahara Force India Academy protege Jehan Daruvala has etched his name in the annals of motorsport history, by becoming the first Indian ever to win a Grand Prix. As much as we wish this was an F1 GP, that's still some time away. The young Indian racer won the final race of the 2017 Toyota Racing Series, held annually in New Zealand. Interestingly, the Macau GP and the race Jehan won are the only two races in the world to get the title of being a Grand Prix, which makes him the only Indian to have won a GP till date. He won the New Zealand Grand Prix at the Chris Amon Circuit that hosted the fifth and final round of the championship. The series is a one-make championship run by Toyota in New Zealand and uses single seater cars powered by a highly tuned version of Toyota's four-cylinder 1.8-litre engine, which offers a stonking 215PS in this guise. Mated to a six-speed Sadev paddle shift gearbox with LSD, the car is among the quickest single seaters for youngsters to cut their teeth on before graduating to bigger formula cars.

The weekend comprised of three races, and it was the last race of the 2017 championship that saw Jehan climb onto the top step of the podium. Effectively, Jehan has ended the 2017 Toyota Racing Series in fifth position overall and will now graduate to the FIA F3 European Championship where some of the world’s best Formula 1 stars have graduated from. What is noteworthy that the list of winners of the New Zealand GP also includes stalwarts like Jackie Stewart, Keke Rosberg, Sir Stirling Moss, John Surtees and Bruce McLaren, which makes the win an enviable feather in young Jehan's hat. Starting from pole position, Jehan had a good start and was able to lead the race from lights to the flag. The 35 lap race was the longest of the season and towards the end, Marcus Armstrong pulled closer to Jehan, though he was able to maintain his pace and eventually secure the win with a margin of less than a second. Thomas Randle was less than half a second further behind in third, and eventually won the championship.

While talking about the winning experience, Jehan said, “I am happy with the pace I have had throughout the series. Winning the Grand Prix is absolutely fantastic and is a proud moment in my racing career so far. I am thankful for everyone around who has helped me achieve this. I am completely focused on what lies ahead and I am confident of a good first year in Formula 3. I will be continuing to work hard with testing and fitness as well.” The first two races of the weekend were no less interesting for Jehan, with the youngster finishing second in race after handing over the lead to Pedro Piquet, as he was forced to brake for turn 1 outside of the clean area of the track. The second race wasn't as fruitful, as Jehan had to settle for seventh place. This isn't the first time Jehan has made the country proud, as he was the second runner-up in the 2014 FIA CIK World Karting Championship. Prior to that, he became the first and only Indian to win a Karting Championship in Europe when he won the British KF3 Championship, before becoming the first and only Indian to win a CIK Championship when he won the 2012 FIA CIK Asia Pacific KF3 Championship in Macau.

Given the fact that the New Zealand GP is one of the only two races outside of F1 to get the coveted Grand Prix status, it is interesting to note that Jehan was racing against some of the best racing talent in the world. The experience of piloting a 215PS formula car to victory should have certainly helped him gain crucial experience, besides allowing him to get further acquainted with the finer nuances of single seater race cars. We wish Jehan the best for the 2017 racing season, and of course his Formula 3 championship!

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