| The top two, Neil Behal and Viral Mehta with their trophies Sunday. Looking on extreme left is Karun Chandhok
Karting isnít really the kindergarten equivalent of Formula One. But it is a whole genre of satisfaction in competitive adrenaline resource infrastructure. Plainspeak is that when Neil Behal and Viral Mehta won the Calcutta leg finals of the JK Tyre National Karting Championship Sunday, and qualified to take part in the Delhi grand finals, there was enough energy left on the track at Clown Town, Patuli, to run a couple more laps.
The enthusiasm has been electric. The fact that both Behal and Mehta are from Mumbai, did make some local hearts cry, but the fact remained that over the multi-layer 350m track, fashionably named Mont-Carlo, there werenít too many senior (over 16 years) movers from Calcutta who seemed to have mastered the art of moving fast enough. One fact is that the sport, despite its second national year in the city, is still in the practice mould here.
The championship, presented by Maruti-Suzuki and Amaron Batteries, drew more than 130 entries in this, the sixth city in the seven-city circuit. Thirty-three made it to the finals of all categories.
The seniorsí final was a tense affair. The start is rolling, and as per new kart race rules, and the karts queue up behind the lead car.
The race stated and stopped. First lap, Mazdayaar Vatcha and Iftekhar Rahman almost clashed. Red flag, and according to rules, the race restarted, to be run for the remaining laps (i.e. 19 instead of 20).
Viral Mehta, who had had a fine run (including fastest into the semi-finals) took the initial lead, followed closely by Amittrajit Ghosh of Calcutta. Amittrajit had moved in fastest at the other semi-final, but he had not been able to match Viralís time.
The gradient section of the track was the testing stage, so was when you move under the flyover. Itís a trifle bumpy there. While Viral maintained his lead, there was a keen tussle for second position between Amittrajit and Neil Behal.
Amittrajitís determination did not last him long. In a race one expects a couple of bumps and thatís what you ride over. Neil took over the second spot, followed by Mazdayaar and Sayantan Bhattacharya in a close chase. Amittrajit dropped to fifth.
Viral and Neil pulled off from the field in the late stages and midway thelast lap Neil outmanoeuvred Viral to take the lead.
Neil didnít only win the Calcutta leg Championís Trophy, but also a cash award of Rs 20,000. Viral, who ended at second position, was awarded a cash prize of Rs 15,000.
Mazdayaar Vatcha ended the race at the third position, winning Rs 10,000 and a trophy. Neil and Viral will now represent Calcutta (though both are Mumbaikars) in the grand finals.
The evening started with a powerful demonstration run by Karun Chandhok and Patrick ó a US-based karting kid, and quite a sensation. They gave a demo of a new brand of karts that should take over. These karts are upto 100cc, and two-stroke, pretty much faster, and transmission through gears possible.
In the ladiesí class, Somonnita Ghosh took the lead and maintained it throughout to win the race. She was closely followed by Debharati Chanda, who ended the race a second position. There was an interesting tussle for the third place between Nirupama and Nidhi Sharma and finally, it was Nirupama who took the honours.