The JK Tyre-FMSCI National Racing Championship, also known as JK-NRC, is a track racing championship series that is considered India's premier motorsports event. This championship is seen as a stepping stone by most Indian drivers to try and break into the international field. The 2017 edition in Coimbatore will be the 20th edition of this prestigious event, and will be held at the Kari Motor Speedway between 8-9 July.
The weekend racing event will feature races in two usual categories — Euro JK 17 and the LGB4. This year, JK Tyre is introducing a new comprehensive bike category, the Suzuki Gixxer Cup. The Suzuki Gixxer Cup will also add to the adrenaline rush, with 30 young bikers, including two women, set to burn rubber.
We are really excited about this season,” Sanjay Sharma, head of JK Motorsport, said. “Not only is it going to be bigger and grander but we will also have a two-wheeler category for the first time,” he added.
The bikers have been carefully picked after four different selection rounds across the country — Bengaluru in the South, Aizawl in the East, Pune in the West and the National Capital Region (NCR) in the North.
Hundreds of aspiring racers got the chance to showcase their skills by simply making an appearance at the venues. They were provided Suzuki Gixxer bikes, safety equipment and given the licence to go all out.
The Gixxer Cup will also provide a glorious opportunity for 15 young racers, including eight from Aizawl, in the rookie category (12-16 years), to make their mark and earn a ticket to represent India at the Red Bull Rookie Cup — Road to MotoGP in Spain.
The selection of so many youngsters from Aizawl in the rookie category is a great sign for Indian motor sport. “There is immense biking talent in the country,” Sharma explained. “We had over 1,200 fine aspirants and it’s a pity that we couldn’t accommodate more,” he added.
Like always, the Euro JK 17 category featuring FB02 formula cars, will be the main attraction. A full grid of racers will go full throttle against each other, with defending champion Anindith Reddy starting as the early favourite.
The Hyderabadi racer won three of the four rounds last year and will be hoping for an encore as he prepares to make the big leap in international racing. He will, however, have to contend with the international racers — Paolo Ippolito from Italy and Ricky Capo from Australia. Capo will be a major threat, especially after winning the European Le Mans Series.
Last year’s second runner-up Nayan Chatterjee (Mumbai) and defending LGB4 champion Vishnu Prasad (Chennai) will also be aiming to put up a good show. Seventeen-year-old Mira Erda from Vadodara, who will become the first female driver to compete in the Euro JK 17, will also be keenly watched.
JKNRC’s other popular category, the LGB4, will see as many as 18 racers gunning for glory. Two Sri Lankan racers bring the international flavour while Chennai’s Raghul Rangasamy, Mumbai’s pilot-female racer Sneha Sharma (both Meco Racing) and Delhi’s Rohit Khanna (Dark Don) are expected to be front-runners.
Here's a look at the drivers to watch out for in the 20th JK Tyre-FMSCI National Racing Championship:
Nayan Chatterjee: The 20-year-old Mumbaiker missed the National Champion title last season even after dominating the first two rounds and being one of the top contenders. Unfortunately due to battery failure and losing few races in the third round, he dropped down the leader board, but managed to bounce back to the top, and eventually finished third overall. He will be a lot more optimistic this year, and his experience in the X30 Southeast Asia Tournament — where he finished fifth in Asia in the 175CC KZ Kart — will surely be of great benefit to him.
Mira Erda: Mira, aged 16, became the first Indian female formula racer of the country by booking her ticket into the Euro JK 17 category in the 20th JK Tyre–FMSCI National Racing Championship, which is the highest formula racing event in the country as well. She was part of the LGB Series last year and her impressive performance in 2016 saw her finish eighth on the table. She was also awarded the "Outstanding Woman in Motorsport Award" by FMSCI last year. She will be the lone woman in the Euro JK 17, and will eager to make presence felt from the word 'go'.
Vishnu Prasad: The 24-year-old racer from Chennai is the most experienced one in the lot. He has participated in 10 seasons of the JK Tyre National Racing Championship and is the reigning champion of the LGB category. He had also participated in the FB02 class and was the winner of two seasons and also the winner of JK Euro series once. He did not participate in the Euro category last season but is back at the Euro 17 this year.
Nirmal Umashankar: Another racer from Chennai, the 16-year-old Nirmal comes from National Rotax Max Karting Championship and will compete alongside the seasoned drivers for the first time. Nirmal is currently second on the leaderboard in the National Karting Championship’s Senior Max Category and is expected to give his competitors a run for their money.
Ricky Capo: Capo is a 21-year-old Australian GT and Formula 3 driver. Capo got hooked onto living life in the fast lane since his early childhood as his father owned a motorsports engineering company. He spent most of the time in his father’s workshop and it was a no-brainer that he would take a liking to cars. For one of his early birthdays, his dad bought him a Go-Kart as a present. Capo shifted to the Australian Formula 3 Championship, feeder series for the Formula 1, in 2014. He eventually tasted success in 2015, when he won the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship by virtue of his seven wins, three pole positions and two lap records.
He also became the youngest driver to race in BMW Z4 in the GT3 category and also picked up one podium finish at the Albert Park Circuit. After having tried his hands in single-seaters and touring cars, this year he participated in the endurance category and raced in the European Le Mans Series in Monza. The Melbourne driver, who idolises Ayrton Senna, will be here in India for the first time to race in the JK Tyre-FMSCI National Racing Championship.
Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 20:50 PM