Sahara Force India Academy racer, Jehan Daruvala, finished second in his maiden Toyota Racing Series championship after the 17-year-old Indian had a good weekend in Feilding, New Zealand, grabbing a pole position and a second-place finish.
Jehan’s quick pace and consistent results in the first two races this weekend ensured he finished second in the overall championship. Lando Norris of England was the champion with 924 points. Jehan’s 789 points helped him finsh second, while New Zealand’s Brendon Leitch was third with 754.
Three victories in addition to multiple podiums summarise Jehan’s strong and consistent performance in his maiden campaign in the Toyota Racing Series. The series this year had one of its most competitive line-ups with racers including Pedro Piquet (two-time Brazilian F3 champion and son of F1 world champion Nelson Piquet), Lando Norris (former World Karting champion and F4 champion), Guanyu Zhou (Ferrari Academy racer), and Artem Markelov (former German F3 runner-up and GP2 racer).
Speaking after ending the season in second place, Jehan said: “I knew I couldn’t afford any major mistakes coming into the last round. The two qualifying sessions were the closest I have been in. I really enjoyed climbing up the order in the reverse grid race, to second. Second in the overall championship, amongst a really competitive line-up, means a lot to me.
“I must thank the Sahara Force India Academy for the valuable support and also a big thank you to M2 Competition for giving me a fantastic car all through the championship,” he added.
Jehan Daruvala Toyota Racing Series
Jehan Daruvala in action in the Toyota Racing Series.
Jehan entered the fifth and final round lying fourth overall in the championship table and obviously knew that it was important for him to finish consistently in the top 5. Quick in practice at the 3km-long Manfeild Autocourse, Jehan topped the timesheets of an extremely close first qualifying session with a time of 1:02.492. The top three were within six hundredths of a second, as Norris was second, just 0.03 seconds behind Jehan, while Brazilian Piquet was just 0.062 seconds behind Jehan.
The second qualifying session was the closest in the entire series. The top 3 were all within one-hundredths of a second, as Norris topped the timesheets with a lap time of 1:02.145, ahead of Piquet and Jehan, who managed to clock the exact same lap time, down to a thousandth of a second. They both had a lap time of 1:02.162.
Jehan, starting on pole for race one, got bogged down a bit as the lights went out and relinquished his top spot to Norris. Soon after, Piquet and Markelov of Russia made contact and the safety car was brought out, while Piquet had to retire. Jehan lost two places and fell to fourth at the restart, before the safety car was deployed once again. This time though, Jehan retained his position while race leader Norris fell to third. The race was won by Ferdinand Habsburg while Jehan’s fourth-place finish ensured he moved from fourth to second in the championship table.
Race two’s starting grid was based on the order of the top 8 finishers in the first race being reversed. Jehan started fifth and had a good start to move into third. The Indian teenager was very quick and proceeded to chase down the front-runners. He soon made a good move on Antoni Ptak and moved into second. Jehan then closed the gap to race leader Leitch but was not able to make a move to pass him. Leitch won less than a second ahead of Jehan, while Ptak was third.
The Indian started from third in race three, but was overtaken at the start by Markelov. On lap two, Jehan ran wide and fell down to ninth. A few laps before the end though, he managed to overtake Ferrari Academy racer Zhou to finish the race in eighth. Jehan benefitted after Piquet was handed a post-race penalty and moved up a position into seventh.
Jehan, Vice Runner-Up at the World Karting Championship in 2014, made the jump from karting to cars only last year. The Sahara Force India Academy racer’s past important milestones include being British KF3 Champion, CIK FIA Asia Pacific KF3 champion, Malaysian Yamaha Karting champion and JK Tyre Indian National Rotax Karting champion.
Next week, Jehan will begin testing in Europe, after which he will be contesting in two separate championships – the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup Series and the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC.