Analysis: How the Indian drivers fared in GT Academy

In the recently concluded Nissan GT Academy Asia camp, Philippines driver Jose Gerrard Policarpio was declared the overall winner while Indian driver Akshay Gupta finished third in the competition.

Five of India's finest gamers headed to the United Kingdom to compete against the best of Japan, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia for a contract with Nissan to race in the 24 Hours of Dubai in 2016.

Before the Asia camp, the International camp saw Australia's Matthew Simmons winning over 29 others. The winner of Asia camp, Policarpio will now partner Simmons for the Dubai race.

After the selection process in India, six finalists were chosen to represent the country in the Asia finals. They were Abhishek Dwaraknath, Anush Chakravarthi, Akshay Gupta, Dhruv Dayal, Shantanu Kallianpurkar and Jaideep Chahal.

Unfortunately, Chahal couldn't make it to the final event after visa issues deprived him of the travel. The five others were greeted by mentor Karun Chandhok who guided the Indians during the gruelling six-day competition.

The competition story

The first two days saw the finalists preparing themselves for the tough four days of knockout competition.

On the third day, Chakravarthi and Dwaraknath became the first two from the Indian team to be eliminated while Dayal, Gupta and Kallianpurkar headed into the final three days.

The fifth day saw Dayal getting knocked out as Gupta and Kallianpurkar made it to the final day where Chandhok and the judges decided Gupta as the Indian finalist to race against the four best drivers.

Philippines' Jose Gerrard Policarpio took the win in the Nissan 370Z NISMO car race as India's Gupta ended third on the podium but missed on the Nissan contract.

Attitude change required

For the five Indians who went to the UK, it was the first time that they had seen a competition which demanded the drivers to be in their top form all through.

Chandhok, mentoring the five Indians, spoke to explaining his role and what the Indian drivers need to do to excel in such events.

The former Formula 1 and Formula E racer felt that the "standard" from the Indian team was certainly higher than last year. He ruled out comparing Gupta and Abhinay Bikkani (2014 winner) unless they were to drive the same car.

"It was hard work for them with a lot of challenges, but I have to say that they all had potential, particularly Akshay [Gupta], Shantanu [Kallianpurkar] and Dhruv [Dayal]," Chandhok revealed.

"It was a bit frustrating at times because they were all nervous about crashing or making a mistake for a lot of the time and therefore driving below their capabilities.

"A lot of the time I spent mentoring them was just about pushing them to maximise their own potential and push themselves," the Indian added.

Chandhok felt that the Indian drivers lost time because they got involved more in "awe" of the overall experience rather than getting the job done.

"This is something that we culturally need to understand and improve for next year - to get the Indian team not to be in awe of the experience and instead just get in the car and attack it like I know they're capable of doing," he explained.

Words of advice

While the three finalists had a lot of potential according to Chandhok but he felt that they have to overcome their weakness to be able to compete internationally.

"I do think that Akshay [Gupta], Shantanu [Kallianpurkar] and Dhruv [Dayal] showed good potential in the competition," Chandhok said.

"The final two (Gupta and Kallianpurkar) we had were polar opposites.

"Akshay [Gupta] needs to think less and attack more while Shantanu [Kallianpurkar] needs to think more and attack less," as per Chandhok.

He added that Dhruv [Dayal] needs to be less nervous and allow his natural ability to take over.

He felt while Dayal and Gupta are young and should get more opportunities, Kallianpurkar, on the other hand, will have limited options because of his older age.

Need more experience

During the week, one thing which confused Chandhok was the pace at which the Indian drivers raced against their rivals.

"It was a bit confusing because they would be driving around two to three seconds off the pace and then suddenly when you ask them to push more, they would find that time," Chandhok said.

"That stuff doesn't happen by magic - it just means that they needed more experience to understand what their own limits were and how to drive at that limit all the time."

Overall, the Indian stated that he enjoyed mentoring the five Indians in the competition and hoped that all of them do well in their respective future.

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About this article
Series GT
Event Nissan GT Academy 2015 Asia Race Camp
Article type Analysis