Whether it’s Parth Ghorpade winning two out of three races in Formula Pilota or Jehan Daruvala completely dominating the final round of the British Super One karting series, something is allowing young Indians to go wheel-to-wheel with the best young racers from around the world.
“Two-stroke karting has made the biggest difference in the infrastructure of Indian motorsport,” said ex-national karting champ Rayomand Banajee.
Having hung up his helmet, Banajee now runs Rayo Racing, which fields teams in the Micro Max, Junior Max and Senior Max categories of the National Karting Championship (NKC).
All three categories feature karts that use the same two-stroke Rotax engines used in series worldwide, which are starting points for any F1 driver.
Ameya Bafna (17) won the Senior Max title for Rayo Racing this year, and has given his Banajee much to be excited about.
“Ameya’s got a phenomenal opportunity as he’s not even 18 yet,” said Banajee.
“We’re currently preparing for the Rotax world championship and will plan a few races in Europe.”
Banajee spoke of how much better karters have it now than when he competed ten years ago due to better guidance, exposure as well as the functioning of karting teams going beyond just showing up at a track.
“Earlier it was more about running,” said Banajee.
“Now a lot of work goes into setup and we spend a lot of time testing.”
Hints of this growth can be seen in the lower categories of the NKC where there are racers looking to join Indian-based two-stroke karters Ghorpade, Daruvala and Bafna. Mira Erda (11) is such a racer who impre-ssed with her performances in the Micro Max category where she harried eventual title-winner Pradyum V Danigond to the finish and qualified second.
“I was nine years old when I got interested in karting after my father built a track near Baroda,” said Erda whose favourite racing driver is Lewis Hamilton.
“I want to be India’s first female F1 driver.”
Erda plans to move up to the Junior Max series and compete in anywhere from 25 to 30 races in total next year in order to chase her ambitious dream.