It all comes down to who a racing driver races at the end of the day. It's fine and good to make a step up to a more powerful, sophisticated racing car, but it's a distant second to getting good competition. Parth Ghorpade has a lot of that to handle in his maiden MRF Challenge season behind the wheel of a Dallara-built, Formula 2000 car.
"This grid gives you a run for your money," said 19-year-old Ghorpade to HT. "You have a GP3 winner, a Formula Two champion and other drivers who are capable of racing in Formula 3 and GP2 and it is tough to get past them as they have much more experience than me."
Experience is paramount to the Kohlapur-born Ghorpade given that he only got his first taste of single seat racing last year in the French Formula 4 championship. Prior to which, he finished a runner-up in the inaugural season of the Volkswagen Polo Cup. He has gotten a fair amount of that in this year's Formula Pilota China season where he currently lies third in the standings with two wins and one round left to go. But he would have gladly traded that success for a good showing in the inaugural F 2000 race during this year's Indian GP.
"It was a frustrating weekend," said Ghorpade. "I didn't make it to the grid in the first race because my car caught fire and I had to retire from ninth after starting 17th in the second race because of a bent steering column."
A ninth, 14th, and seventh place finish over the four races of the MRF Challenge during the Sidvin Festival of Speed looks unimpressive, but Dallara's head of Engineering and Project Management Jos Claes feels its too early to pass judgement on Ghorpade.
"We must wait until the next round in Chennai," said Claes. "That's when drivers will get two days of driving anywhere from four to six hours to learn more unlike here where drivers were focusing just on performance."