Review: Indian seniors' 2015 season in international racing

Seven of the Indian experienced campaigners competed across various championships around the globe. Darshan Chokhani reviews their performance over the season.

A look at all the drivers racing in the senior level, six of them completed a full season in the various championships with the likes of Aditya Patel, Armaan Ebrahim and Gautam Singhania shining in the circuit racing category.

Here is how their season went:

Aditya Patel

Series: Audi R8 LMS Cup

Position: P4

The ace touring car racer Aditya Patel competed in the Audi R8 LMS cup championship in Asia after racing in the International GT in 2014. The Indian started his first season in the Audi R8 fittingly with a third-place finish, on the podium.

Further two podiums in Korea and Penbay meant Patel led the championship at the end of the third round. But two unlucky rounds in Sepang and Fuji dropped the Chennai-born driver to sixth heading into the finale.

The Indian kept the best for last taking his maiden win in the final race of the championship as he ended fourth with 119 points in the kitty. If not for the two difficult weekends, Patel had an impressive run fighting with the top bunch.

Even as the guest driver in the Audi TT Cup, the 27-year-old did well taking two class wins finishing fifth and sixth overall at Nurburgring. He is yet to finalise his 2016 plans but another year in the LMS cup going for the title looks likely.

Armaan Ebrahim

Series: Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia

Positon: P2

Sportscar driver Armaan Ebrahim competed in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia series with Sri Lankan partner Dilantha Malagamuwa for Dilango Racing in 2015.

The Indian had a mixed season finishing second in the championship. The pair started with a win in the opening round at Fuji, but his season was plagued with mechanical issues which interrupted his strong run in almost all the races.

Despite the issues, the pair notched up podiums in four race weekends. The pace was there to challenge for consistent wins but for the gremlins, they had limited track time to recover.

The Indian also took part in the World Finals at Sebring where he finished 10th in both the outings. His plan for the 2016 season is yet to be confirmed.

Narain Karthikeyan

Series: Super Formula Japan

Position: P11

After a difficult 2014 with Team Impul in the championship, the Indian driver switched teams in 2015 to Dandelion Racing, hoping for a better fighting season in the Japanese premier single-seater series.

The 38-year-old got the start, he had hoped for with a third-place finish in the opening race at Suzuka after starting from the front row, but to his unfortunate luck, that was the only race he scored as he ended 11th overall gathering six points only.

The Indian only managed two top 10 finishes (10th in Aida and ninth in Motegi) after his first race heroics but scored no points as the series follows the old scoring system of awarding only the top eight finishers.

He had a strong qualifying at Fuji finishing fifth but mechanical issues meant he couldn’t start the race, thus a strong point scoring chance dashed. His consolation at the end of the season was him clocking the fastest lap in the season finale race at Suzuka.

Although, he showed glimpses of strong performances, overall it was yet another average season for the Indian. For 2016, it is highly likely that he will do one more season in the championship with a hope of fighting for wins and the title.

Karun Chandhok

The 31-year-old Indian had a busy racing schedule in the first half of 2015 where he competed in the Formula E championship and concluded his programme for the year racing in 24 Hours of Le Mans.

After the first three rounds in 2014, the Formula E season for Chandhok finished with the remaining eight rounds in the new year. The Indian who started the all-electric series on a good note failed to score any points after the first two rounds, thereby, completing a difficult season with Mahindra Racing.

He ended 17th in the overall standings with 18 points. Post his Formula E duties, Chandhok had a good outing at Le Mans driving in the LMP2 class with Murphy Prototypes sharing his seat with Nathanael Berthon and Mark Patterson.

Having qualified 18th overall, the team finished 13th and fifth in class to round off a strong race for the Irish team after having lost time due to mishaps during the race. Chandhok shone during his stints, clocking faster times than his teammates.

Since then, the Indian has taken more of a mentoring role to young European F3 racer Arjun Maini along with appearances in the Indian open-wheel championship JK Tyre Racing series. He was also involved in the St. Mary's Trophy during the Goodwill Revival with Swiftune Mini.

For 2016, his aim is to compete at Le Mans again but apart from that, there is nothing else on the horizon yet.

Gautam Singhania

Series: Ferrari Challenge Europe (Coppa Shell)

Position: P2

The Indian business tycoon Gautam Singhania had a brilliant second year as a competitive driver, finishing runners-up in the Ferrari Challenge Europe’s Coppa Shell division.

A motorsport enthusiast took up racing last year in the same series with Kessel Racing but only finished 12th in the standings. A remarkable turnaround this year saw him jump 10 places in the standings to second with 170 points.

Not only that, he became the first Indian to win a Ferrari Challenge race during the season finale at Mugello. Along with a race win, the Indian had 10 podiums to go with two pole positions and a fastest lap.

His race craft improved steadily over the season and it was vindicated in the World Finals where he dropped to 11th before recovering to a fine fourth.

Gaurav Gill

Series: Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, Indian Rally Championship

Position: P3

Ace Indian rally driver Gaurav Gill hopes of a 2013 repeat couldn’t materialise as the Indian finished third in the Asia-Pacific Rally championship driving the Skoda for Team MRF.

The 34-year-old started the championship with a win in the second round at New Caledonia, but retirements in Australia and Japan killed any title hopes for the Delhi-born.

The promising season ended on a disaster when Gill lost his second position in the standings after his third retirement of the year in the finale in China.

The races which he completed, he notched up a win and two podium finishes, showing the potential of the car. He even lost his Indian Rally championship title to after two retirements in four rallies.

The Indian who hopes for a World Rally Championship seat hasn’t finalized his 2016 plans but is likely to continue in APRC.

CS Santosh

The lone rider to feature in the list, CS Santosh took part in the gruelling cross-country Dakar rally at the start of the year.

With no prior experience of Dakar, the Indian managed to finish the toughest rally classified 36th in the bike category riding his KTM machinery.

A commendable job by the young rider who throughout the 2015 got himself ready for the 2016 challenge. He aims for a top 20 finish in his new Suzuki bike.

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About this article
Series Audi R8 LMS Cup , Dakar , Le Mans , Other rally , Formula E , Super Formula , Lamborghini Super Trofeo
Drivers Narain Karthikeyan , Karun Chandhok , Armaan Ebrahim , Aditya Patel , Gaurav Gill , Gautam Singhania , CS Santosh
Teams Mahindra Racing
Article type Analysis