As debutants, Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok overcame Japanese drivers Kazuya Ohshima and Takuto Iguchi of Gazoo Team Toyota to take glory at the inaugural Race of Champions- Asia held at Bangkok. What makes the victory sweeter is the fact that the two Japanese drivers were the class winners at the 2012 Nürburgring 24-Hour race.
Leading the Group Stage with four wins out of six, Narain and Karun stormed into the finals against the stiff Japanese opponents with both winning their heats knocking off their rivals to take the trophy.
Chandhok said: “That was a really good night and it was obviously very nice to end up on top. It wasn’t as straightforward as we would have hoped as we both had our favourite cars and we ended up driving the opposite ones to what we wanted. But it worked out well in the end. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed our first experience of competing here. In the end I think we beat everyone fair and square. That’s what the Race Of Champions all about – same cars, same track, same conditions. It’s a bit of history for Team India to win the first ROC Asia. That’s obviously very special. “
Karthikeyan added: “This is the first time at the Race Of Champions for both myself and Karun and I’ve really enjoyed this event so far. It’s a unique format and it’s pretty tight and narrow out there. So it was a challenge to put a precise lap together in any of the cars. But it’s just about getting the best out of each car. You need to adapt very quickly without any mistakes as you need a clean lap.”
Post the victory and propelling to the Nations Cup round, the duo had a daunting challenge with Karthikeyan slugging it out with Michael Schumacher and Chandhok lined up against Sebastian Vettel. The result was anyone’s guess and though the duo’s best efforts didn’t result in a victory, but winning the ROC title was a welcome accolade for Indian Motorsport fans hoping victory for India at a competitive international level.