Ishaan Dodhiwala’s strong and steady run helped him clinch his first Volkswagen Vento Cup title, with Karminder Singh having to settle for another second place finish.
Dodhiwala and Singh were on-song since the first round of the season, while Keith Desouza put his claim in the fight with some consistent results.
But Round 3 proved to be a decisive turn in Dodhiwala’s favour, with Singh even though managing to bridge the gap, but had much to do for in the finale. While Desouza was left with an only an outside chance.
Nothing mattered in the final round at Buddh circuit as Dodhiwala dominated the proceedings to take his maiden title by 32 points.
At the end of the first two rounds, it all pointed towards a three-way fight with Dodhiwala, Singh and Desouza separated by just 18 points.
With the championship hitting the Madras Motor Race Track for the first time in three years, most of the drivers faced an uphill task in Round 2.
The likes of Desouza and Niranjan Todkari, having had prior experience of racing at MMRT took their maiden wins to close up to the front runners.
But when the field returned to Chennai for the third round, Dodhiwala and Singh were better prepared and showed it on track with the two sharing wins in the three races.
And an average weekend without any podiums for the Goa-based Desouza meant, he had much to do in the final round to be able to beat the top two.
Meanwhile, Dodhiwala up front created a comfortable buffer to head into the finale with full confidence as the battle most certainly came down to between him and Singh.
Win in style
In the finale, Dodhiwala wasted no time to improve his third place finish in 2015 and take two steps up and clinch the championship in 2016.
Pole on Thursday and a win on Saturday pretty much sealed the title’s fate and even though Singh managed to win the final race of the season, Dodhiwala had enough to win the bigger prize.
“If you look at last year, I scored seven second places finishes, yet I finished third in the championship,’’ Dodhiwala told Motorsport.com.
“This year I’ve regularly been able to make the step up and score wins on a regular basis. The championship is such that there is a massive points difference between finishing first and second (12 points).”
"[It] was a long and hard fought season but all the preparation helped. I was confident of doing well and it feels incredible now that I have won the cup," he added.
Five wins and just two races outside podium showed Dodhiwala’s supreme hold on the season to Singh’s three wins and six podiums - not enough in the end.
"With 32 points short to Ishaan, I knew that it wasn't going to be easy at all. but I was extremely positive [heading to finale]," said Singh to Motorsport.com.
"Buddh being one of my favourite tracks, I was expecting a great title fight, but when luck isn't by your side then it just doesn't matter how hard you try.
"Right from the mid-season test I was facing a lot of issues in the car with my ABS failing to gears, not shifting to major power loss - things were just not falling in place for me.
"So we changed two cars over the weekend and still things didn't work out. Pushed really hard despite problems but guess it wasn't enough.
Behind the two, further troubles in the final round meant Desouza could manage no better than third, after having won the Indian Junior Touring Car title in the National Championship.
Todkari, Pawar and Jhabakh impress
Outside the top three, Jeet Jhabakh took the Juniors’ title and was sixth overall with consistent points finish, gaining more experience as the season progressed.
Meanwhile, the likes of Todkari and Aditya Pawar impressed with their performances, with the former supreme in Round 2, clinching maiden pole and a win along with a podium.
The Pune-based driver caught up with Desouza in the end to finish 50 points behind taking one win and three podiums overall in his first season.
Whereas Pawar had three podium finishes to his name and was a steady top five finishers, only the two DNF's costing him valuable points in his battle with Todkari.
Elsewhere, it was a close fight for eighth place in the standings with Arfath Mohammed leading Hatim Shabbir and Amit Mete - the three covered by just six points.
[Note: The championship was decided taking into account the best nine finishes of the drivers.]
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