Armaan ready to zoom past racing circuits

February 21st, 2008 - 3:39 pm ICT by admin  

By Anand Philar
Chennai, Feb 21 (IANS) At 18, Armaan Ebrahim has scaled more motor sport peaks than most racing drivers. Beginning with Indian Formula racing, he moved on to the Formula BMW Asia, A1 GP series, Formula Renault UK, Formula Renault V6 Asia and now, the high-profile GP2 Asia series, just a rung below the “Everest”, Formula One. Last weekend, in his very second outing in the GP2 Asia series, Armaan delivered a top-10 finish with Team David Price Racing at the Sentul circuit in Indonesia in horrendous conditions marked by heavy rain and an eroding surface.

“I was planning on a top-10 finish by the end of the season and so, the ninth place finish at Sentul was indeed a very satisfying result for me,” said Armaan on his return to his hometown here.

The Sentul race was marred by thunderstorms that reduced track visibility to virtually next to nothing. Given the circumstances and the fact that he was up against older and more experienced drivers, besides starting 16th on the grid, Armaan’s performance did not miss the attention of the discerning.

He had qualified 21st for the first race after a disastrous session when his radiator was punctured after being hit by a stone. During the race, he faced an overheating problem and retired to save the engine.

Reflecting on his performance, Armaan, the youngest driver on the GP2 circuit, told IANS: “The conditions were very tough. The spray from the car in front further reduced visibility. Also, with the track surface eroding, there were debris flying around. My helmet is full of pock marks after being constantly hit by the debris on the track.”

His debut outing in the first round in Dubai last month was marred by engine problems that drastically cut into his practice and qualifying runs as he finished 22nd in the first race and retired early in the next.

Armaan signed up with DPR on a 600,000 Euros budget to drive in the newly introduced GP2 Asia series this season. The Asian segment forms part of the GP2 championship that also comprises races in Europe and costs 1.5 million euros.

The teenager said that ideally, he would have liked to do the entire series (Asia and the main series in Europe) but severe budget constraints precluded such a move.

“I would have loved to do the entire championship, but then, the budgets are huge and unless I secure sponsorship, I doubt if I will be able to compete in the European segment,” Armaan said.

His father, Akbar Ebrahim, India’s first international Formula racing driver and a former Tamil Nadu and South Zone opening batsman, has been scouring the country for possible sponsors.

JK Tyre, Speed (Bharat Petroleum), Elf and Amaron presently support Armaan, but the funds still fall short of what he needs.

“It is a bit of a struggle at the moment, but I’m hopeful of making good the amount as the season progresses. Armaan’s chances of doing the full GP2 series very much depends on securing sponsorship, failing which he might return to the Formula Renault V6 Asia or do the Italian F3000. As of now, our focus is on the GP2 Asia championship,” Akbar said.

Having played a lot of domestic cricket, Akbar pointed out that the over $700 million being poured into the Indian Premier League cricket tournament put his struggle to raise a mere $2 million sponsorship in perspective.

Despite the heavy odds, the Ebrahim family still nurses optimism that in the end, Armaan’s racing talent would be recognised and receives the financial support that it deserves.

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