Young Indian racer Parth Ghorpade has became the first Indian to win the Formula Pilota Asian Championship when he won Race 2 at Round 6 of the 2012 Formula Pilota Championship in Sepang, Malaysia. With this win he finished 1st in the Asian Category and 3rd overall in the Championship behind Antonio Giovinazzi and Dan Wells. Parth had earlier finished 5th in Race 1 and had to retire in Race 3.
Both the overall Champion and Asian Champion will get the opportunity to join a 4 day evaluation at the Ferrari Driver Academy, which will include a F3 test, and a program of physical and psychological tests, along with a day of testing in the simulator. The Ferrari Driver Academy is aimed at evaluating young upcoming talents at both national and international levels and Parth will have the distinction of becoming the first Indian to be a part of it.
Qualifying had been a disaster for his entire Eurasia team as they took the wrong direction on the set up for the wet session. As a result, the 4 Eurasia cars, despite taking the top 4 positions in the official practice session, were at the back in qualifying. The best Parth could manage was a P9 for Race 1 and P7 for Race 3. In Race 1, Parth finished in 5th place after starting P9 and also set 2nd fastest time which got him a P2 grid position for Race 2.
In Race 2, Parth managed to overtake pole-sitter Giovinazzi into the first corner and started to pull away. On lap 3 it started to rain with all the cars on slick tyres and the track very slippery. On the last lap as the conditions worsened, 7 cars went off the track with only 2 managing to rejoin. Parth managed to hold his nerve and pull off one of his best wins of the season, setting fastest lap of the race enroute. With this win Parth managed to seal the Asian title with one race to go. Parth was forced to retire from Race 3 with damage to his car.
Parth, who is only in his 2nd year of single seater racing was delighted with his season. He commented, “I am thrilled to be the first ever Indian to win the Formula Pilota Asian Championship. The Eurasia Team have given me a great car all year to finish 3rd overall so a big thank you to all the hard work put in by everyone this year. After our worst qualifying of the year we knew we had to take some risks to move up the grid. 5th in the first race was the best I could do. In the second race I got a great start and went into the lead with Antonio behind me. I managed to pull away but then it started raining and the track became very slippery with slick tyres. On the last lap it was really hard to keep the car on track but was determined to win this one. ”
Parth has been doubling up on his racing as he has been taking part in the MRF Challenge 2012 as well. After a tough Round 1 he bounced back at Round 2 with 2 top 10 finishes. While Parth will turn his attention to the remaining rounds of MRF Challenge 2012, he is keenly looking forward to the Ferrari Driver Academy evaluation which will take place early next year.
He continued, “The Ferrari Driver Academy evaluation program will be one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of. I am really looking forward to it and understanding the way they work. This will definitely be a unique opportunity so will savour it. Now I have a good break coming up before I return to the MRF Challenge 2012. A big thank you to all my sponsors and supporters, Karvy Group and Flameback Lodges, and most importantly my family for all their support.”
19 year old Ghorpade is a five-time National Karting Champion, runner-up in the inaugural 2010 Volkswagen Polo Cup India, and recently competed in the Renault F4 series in 2011, finishing in the top five multiple times. Parth was also one of 30 young drivers from 26 countries and the only Indian to be shortlisted for the prestigious FIA Institute Young Driver Academy last year.