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Birel ART India Dominates Rotax Micro's Last Round

Birel ART India's Ruhaan Alva dominated the last round of the JK Tyre Rotax Micro National Championship in Kolhapur. Alva, in his second race as a Birel ART India factory driver, scored a commanding victory on Sunday, after missing qualifying and starting Heat 1 from the back of the grid, due to a spark plug failure.

Other Birel ART India factory drivers were also very competitive throughout the weekend. In the Pre-final, Kunal Vinod was the innocent victim of a contact at the start; however, despite a heavily damaged tie rod, Vinod stormed through the field and positioned himself well for the Final. In the Final, Vinod started from 7th and after several wheel-to-wheel battles, he finished the race just outside the podium in 4th place.

2016 Rookie Cup Champion Arjun R, qualified in 2nd place, but a slow start in Heat 1 pushed him down the field. Arjun recovered in the Pre-final where he finished 4th. In the Final, Arjun staged an aggressive race, where he swapped several times positions for third place with competitor Aadityansh K. With four laps left in the race, Arjun was determined to claim his spot on the podium, and went for a deep dive under braking in Turn 1. Unfortunately, Aadityansh had already committed to the corner and the two drivers collided, prematurely ending Arjun's great race.

Saathvik Raju had a solid qualifying in 8th, but in Heat 1 he attempted a strong overtaking maneuver at the end of the main straight in Turn 1, and was hit by a competitor, forcing him into retirement. Starting from the back of the field in Heat 2, Raju gradually recovered in subsequent races, and crossed the finish line in 8th place in the Final.

Despite his dominant race win, Alva's performance was a roller coaster throughout the weekend, due to engine problems on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Alva was languishing in 7th place in free practice, almost a second behind the fastest lap time. In Saturday's qualifying, an engine change did not cure the problems, and a subsequent spark plug failure forced Alva to stop on the sidelines without recording any lap times. Alva started Heat 1 from the back of the field, and despite a limping engine, he managed to claw back to 7th place. But in Heat 2, Alva only edged up to 6th place.

However, on Sunday the Birel ART India team changed another engine, and Alva was back to his usual blistering pace, finishing the Warm Up session in 2nd place, just 0.025s behind competitor Shahan Ali Mohsin. In the Pre-final, Alva started from 6th place, and staged a very aggressive charge, which saw him briefly overtake Mohsin for 1st place in Turn 1, but then he immediately slid off track. Alva rejoined the track in 3rd place, and quickly climbed back to 2nd. Then, he closed in again on Mohsin with a series of fastest lap times, but finished the Pre-final 1.5 seconds behind Mohsin.

In the Final, Alva started from the front row and immediately put pressure on Mohsin. The duo battled for the initial laps, but Alva clearly had plenty of pace in reserve, and forcefully passed Mohsin at the end of the back straight. After gaining the lead, Alva set a series of blindingly fast laps, which saw him extend his advantage to almost 4 seconds. Alva crossed the finish line in 1st place, and again recorded the fastest lap time of the race. His lap time of 57:182 was half-a-second faster than his closest competitor, showing the exceptional potential of the Birel ART C28-Y chassis. "I am really happy that we finally got back the pace, after some engine problems," said a thrilled Ruhaan Alva after the race. "I had to start from the back on Saturday, since I could not get a qualifying time, but I still managed to win this round!"