Dodhiwala impresses with podium in Polo Cup China
Ishaan Dodhiwala made a successful international debut in the Volkswagen Polo GTI Cup China, finishing on the podium in Race 1.
As a reward for winning last year’s Volkswagen Vento Cup title, Dodhiwala got a chance to make a one-off appearance at the Shanghai International Circuit with the 333 Club squad.
The Hyderabad-based driver got off to a good start in Thursday's practice, finishing second in the timesheets despite no previous experience of racing at the Formula 1 venue.
He was able to transfer his practice pace into qualifying, lapping the 4.602 km circuit in 2m20.421s to put his #22 Polo on the front row of the grid.
He held his position at the start of the race until he got hit by a rival driver and dropped down to fifth.
Despite the early setback, Dodhiwala initiated a fantastic recovery drive, climbing back up to third by the time the chequered flag was dropped on lap 8. Remarkably, he finished just 0.548s behind the second-placed driver despite the time lost early on with the collision.
The top six positions from qualifying 2 were reversed for the second race, putting Dodhiwala fifth on the grid.
Once again, the MRF F1600 driver was on a charge, jumping up to third place in a matter of laps. He successfully executed an overtaking manoeuvre on the final lap to move up to second place, but the results were declared from the previous lap due to a red flag.
Following post race investigations, the stewards deemed that the overtaking move took place under the red flag and handed him a penalty that dropped him outside the podium.
Dodhiwala was unlucky in the incident as the red flag board was blocked by the rival car while he attempted the move.
Summing up the weekend, he said: “It was completely unknown territory for me here in the Polo Cup China. I had to focus on several factors – track, car and most importantly the aggressive Chinese drivers.
“It is truly an honour to be here in China as the only Indian driver and then taking a podium ahead of most of the local talents here.
“My strategy right from the beginning was to fully optimise this opportunity handed by Volkswagen Motorsport India. I wanted to concentrate on going faster and staying clean in every session and not get bothered by the Chinese competition. I guess all the track time I have put in back home has paid off now!”
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