Force India protege Jehan Daruvala continued his fine performance in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championship, notching up a rookie trophy and podium finish in the sixth round at Nurburgring.
After competing in two consecutive rounds of Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, Daruvala was back to his main championship, this weekend at Nurburgring to continue chasing the top rookie slot in the series.
Heading into the weekend, the Fortec Motorsports driver sat second in the rookie list while sixth in the main standings with Josef Kaufmann Racing's Louis Deletraz leading at the front.
Daruvala, this weekend, was joined by the BRDC F4 and MSA Formula Indian driver Ameya Vaidyanathan, who made his debut in NEC for MGR Motorsport team.
The Fortec driver started the weekend on a good note finishing ninth in the first practice session (ART's Ukyo Sasahara finished first) while topping the second practice session, whereas Vaidyanathan was sixth and 17th respectively.
Top five for Daruvala; Vaidyanathan starts well
In the first qualifying session, Daruvala finished a good fifth and was only 0.329s off the polesitter Sasahara while Deletraz ended second and Kevin Jorg third.
In his debut qualifying, Vaidyanathan finished 17th, only three places behind his teammate Colin Noble for Saturday's race.
The second qualifying session saw Daruvala improve further to finish third, 0.231s off topper Deletraz with Sasahara slotting in at second.
Vaidyanathan made a slight improvement as well, finishing 16th, two places behind his teammate Noble, but the gap between the two drivers was over two seconds.
Rookie trophy in race one
Starting fifth, Daruvala did not have a great getaway but made progress to move to fourth in the opening stages of Saturday's race one.
With a bit of rain falling, Daruvala had it all under control, until a safety car period and the subsequent restart, where the Indian got a poor getaway and lost a position to Stefan Riener and thus finished fifth taking the best rookie finisher's trophy.
"I was really happy with my car in qualifying. In the race, I did not have a great start but after that I ran fourth and kept my pace," Daruvala said after race one.
"After the safety car period, I had a bad restart as the track was still a bit damp and Riener overtook me, but I am happy with being fifth."
Vaidyanathan, on the other hand, had a sedate race finishing 16th while his teammate retired. Sasahara took the win ahead of Deletraz and Jorg.
Best single-seater finish
In Sunday's race, Daruvala maintained his third position at the start but was under pressure from ART's Max Defourny.
Just before the safety car period, Defourny overtook Daruvala for third while in the front, leaders Sasahara and Deletraz made contact, which moved Defourny into the lead with Daruvala second.
The Belgian driver created a significant gap over Daruvala to win the second race of the weekend as the Indian took second, his best single-seater finish in his young career.
"I had a good start and stayed third," Daruvala said.
"I did a 360 on lap four and slid on the astroturf but continued. When Ukyo and Louis went off I really pushed but Max was just a bit quicker."
Jorg completed the podium with Vaidyanathan finishing 16th as his teammate Noble was ninth.
Deletraz maintains his lead with 288 points as Daruvala stayed second in rookie standings (sixth in main) with 164.5 points. Top rookie Defourny stretched his lead with a gap of 10.5 points over the Indian.
A fruitful debut weekend for Vaidyanathan as he scored 10 points to sit 32nd in the championship.
With only one round to go at Hockenheim in October (3rd-4th), Daruvala has three races to beat Defourny for the rookie title and also break into the top five of the main standings.