India’s Ishaan Dodhiwala finished on podium in one of the races and missed another in the second race that he participated in at the Polo Cup China round held today. Putting up an excellent show, the Hyderabad boy stunned one and all with his spectacular performance taking a third spot in the first races of the weekend.
An excited Ishaan said, “It was a completely unknown territory for me here in Polo Cup China. I had to focus on several factors – track, car and most importantly the aggressive Chinese drivers. It is truly an honour to be here in China as the only Indian driver and then taking a podium ahead of most of the local talents here.” He further added, “My strategy right from the beginning was to fully optimise this opportunity handed by Volkswagen Motorsport India – I wanted to concentrate on going faster and staying clean in every session and not get bothered by the Chinese competition. I guess all the track time I have put in back home has paid off now!”
Ishaan started off the Polo Cup weekend in China with the first practice session on Thursday. While he spent most of the time learning the track and car, he did manage to surprise everyone with a second-fastest lap time of the session, only four tenths behind the fastest driver. The Saturday practice session saw Ishaan upping his pace further. However, he was not the only one improving on the lap times and this meant that he had to settle with a third position at the end of the practice sessions.
The Qualifying session format in Polo Cup China follows a different pattern – there are two sessions Q1 and Q2. The top eight drivers from Q1 then go in to Q2. The top eight for Race 1 are decided purely by the results of Q2 followed by the remaining drivers from Q1. For Race 2, the top six qualifiers from Q2 are reversed on the grid. Ishaan managed not only to qualify in the top eight in Q1, but in fact got the second spot on the grid. In Q2, the drivers tend to go a little slower to come as close as possible to get a sixth place so that with reverse grid rule, they can start the Race 2 in pole position. Keeping his focus on going fastest, Ishan qualified in second position in Q2, which meant he had to start Race 2 in fifth place on the grid.
Race 1 saw Ishaan starting from P3 and quickly getting up the order in P2. Unfortunately though, he was bumped into by another driver on the first lap itself which unsettled his car and that pushed him back to fifth position. From there onwards, the young Indian driver made no mistakes and climbed back into the third position. He finished his first ever international outing with a podium position.
Starting fifth on the grid for Race 2, it was an uphill task for Ishaan right from the beginning. Nonetheless, he drove remarkably fast to climb up the order in no time. By the last lap, Ishaan came up all the way to the second spot. Unfortunately though, an incident in the race brought out red flags with just three corners to go. Missing the red flag Ishaan tried to overtake the car in front of him and was therefore was penalised losing his second potential podium in an international setting.
About Volkswagen Motorsport India: Taking ahead 50 years of enriching global motorsport legacy of Volkswagen, Volkswagen Motorsport India commenced operations with the Polo Cup India in 2010. The series started off with a first- ever iconic race being held at Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi in Pune, the hometown of Volkswagen in India. The vast global expertise, coupled with rich dynamic history of the Group has enabled Volkswagen Motorsport India to progress swiftly and become the best one make series in a short span of time. The Volkswagen Polo R Cup enhanced awareness as well as underlined the technological advancement of Volkswagen in India. In 2015, Volkswagen Motorsport India shifted to Vento Cup and continued to provide a vital platform for the talented young racers to demonstrate their capabilities nationally and internationally by nurturing them. In the one-make series, all participating cars are technically identical with the same performance making it possible for only the most skilled drivers to leave an impact.
Successes in Indian Rallying: Under the Customer Sport Initiative, Volkswagen Motorsport India started providing teams and individuals running Volkswagen Polo rally cars in the Indian Rally Championship (IRC) with technical assistance and spares from 2013. The Volkswagen Polo won the 2013, 2014 and 2015 season in the Group N 1600-cc class. Further, the Volkswagen Polo went on to win the overall Indian Rally Championship across all categories in the 2016 season.