Qualifying saw Kane come out kicking, with Luke hot on his heels. The two drivers tossed out the opening laps as their tyres warmed to the now-cool Madras Motor Race Track. Then Potty joined the fray setting the fastest lap, matching his best times from free practice. As the sun set here in Sriperumbudur, we waited for Muizz and Alessandro to have their say.
With the heat of the newly-resurfaced track playing a deciding factor in tyre wear, young drivers Luke, Muizz and Alessandro decided to stay in the pits engaging in some good old-fashioned tactics and strategic planning, no doubt hoping the psychological effect would give them an advantage in this track war.
On track, the ever-steady Shepherd was unfazed and unchallenged as he set a 1:38.37. Satisfied, he returned to the pits to wait and see it was enough to put it on pole. Determined to fend off the challenge, Muizz belted out just as Thailand’s representative hit the pit limit line, laying down a 1:38.29 and then an 1:38 dead. All the pressure was now on Ghiretti to repeat his performance from the last event.
Shepherd wasn’t going to let the provocation stand, and knocked a few tenths off his time, setting a personal best and notching into Muizz’s time. But with 3 minutes to go, Ghiretti pulled clear of his rivals, dashed across the line, stunning all of us in race control with his time of 1:37.75. With one lap to go everyone scrambled to respond, but all fell short of the Frenchman’s brilliant time.
Remarkably Ghiretti only put 5 laps on his tyres – just one more than Muizz while Shepherd and other drivers had 10 or 11 laps of wear and tear. This is a key, as we’ve seen in the past this strategy bears fruit in the last race which often decides who will bring home the weekend’s trophies.
With Ghiretti on course for another winning weekend, be sure to tune in to the live stream of the first race tomorrow at 0900 (GMT+0530) to see what the challengers from Thailand, Malaysia and Belgium can do to stop him!