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Posted on Dec 09, 09:34AM | IANS
Parth Ghorpade became the first Indian to annex the Formula Pilota Asian Championship when he won Race 2 at the sixth round of the series here Saturday.
With this win, the 19-year old Ghorpade from Kolhapur finished first in the Asian category and third overall in the Championship behind Antonio Giovinazzi and Dan Wells. Ghorpade had earlier finished fifth in Race 1 and had to retire in Race 3.
Both the overall and Asian champions will get the opportunity to join a four-day evaluation at the Ferrari Driver Academy which will include a F3 test and a programme 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 Ghorpade 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 four Eurasia cars, despite taking the top four positions in the official practice session, were at the back in qualifying.
The best Ghorpade could manage was a P9 for Race 1 and P7 for Race 3. In Race 1, he finished in fifth place and also set 2nd fastest time which got him a P2 gridposition for Race 2.
In Race 2, Ghorpade 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, seven cars went off the track with only two managing to rejoin. Ghropade managed to hold his nerve and pull off one of his best wins of the season, setting fastest lap of the race en route.
With this win, Ghorpade sealed the Asian title with one race to go, but was forced to retire from Race 3 with damage to his car.
Ghropade, who is only in his second year of single-seater racing, was delighted with his season and said: "I am thrilled to be the first ever Indian to win the Formula Pilota Asian Championship. The Eurasia Team has given me a great car all year to finish third 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. Fifth 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 I was determined to win this one. "
Looking ahead, Ghorpade said: "The Ferrari Driver Academy evaluation programme 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 I will savour it. Now, I have a good break coming up before I return to the MRF Challenge 2012.
Ghorpade is a five-time National Karting champion, runner-up in the inaugural 2010 Volkswagen Polo R Cup and competed in the Renault F4 series in 2011, finishing in the top five multiple times.
Ghorpade 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.