Jehan Daruvala won the Toyota Racing Series’ New Zealand Grand Prix at the Chris Amon Circuit in Manfeild, New Zealand, on Sunday to finish the 2017 championship on a high.
Jehan, who started from pole, led through the race to the chequered flag in the main feature race, and the third of the weekend action.
With the win, Jehan, who amassed 781 points in the 15-race series held in January-February, finished it in fifth position. Thomas Randle of New Zealand, with 855 points, was crowned champion. Brazilian Pedro Piquet (850 pts), son of former F1 world champion Nelson Piquet, finished the championship in second place ahead of Dutch driver Richard Verschoor (843).
Jehan said the race win has given him a much-needed confident boost ahead of his debut in the FIA Formula 3 championship this year.
“I am happy with the pace I have had throughout the series,” said the 18-year-old, a product of Force India’s junior racing programme. “Winning the Grand Prix is absolutely fantastic and is a proud moment in my racing career so far. I am completely focused on what lies ahead and I am confident of a good first year in Formula 3. I will be continuing to work hard with testing and fitness as well.”
Jehan started off the weekend on the right note by bagging pole position for Race 1. The extremely close qualifying sessions saw four racers within two tenths of a second in each session. Jehan lapped the 3-km circuit to bag pole in race 1, just seven-hundredths of a second in front of Pedro Piquet. Marcus Armstrong of New Zealand was a further eight hundredths of a second adrift.
Jehan started well from pole for Race 1, but relinquished his position to Piquet, after braking and losing time on the dirty side the circuit into turn one. Piquet held his lead for the entire race. Jehan followed him home in second place, ahead of Armstrong.
The result meant that Jehan had to start sixth due to the reverse grid regulations for Race 2. Jehan lost a position and eventually finished seventh, sustaining some damage to his car as well.
Jehan had a good start in the New Zealand Grand Prix, which was the main feature race and the third race of the weekend, from pole and went on to open up a lead while the racers behind him fought for positions.
A race incident then brought out the red flag, but Jehan kept his rhythm intact by getting a good re-start and maintaining the lead once again. The 35-lap race was the longest of the season and towards the end of the race, Armstrong pulled closer to Jehan. But the Indian was able to keep his cool and win with a margin of less than a second. Armstrong finished second, ahead of Thomas Randle.
Besides the win on Sunday, Jehan had nine podiums in the Toyota Racing Series this year.