Indian motorsports federation’s decision to ignore promising youngster Jehan Daruvala for the Arjuna Award has raised a few eyebrows in the fraternity.
Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India on Friday defended the decision saying the young driver’s “time will come soon”.
The FMSCI sent the names of off-road racer Aishwarya Pissay, biker CS Santosh and 2016 Asia Max Karting Champion Shahan Ali Mohsin to be considered for the country’s second highest sporting honour.
Daruvala, who is 21, has achieved multiple firsts as an Indian racer in the last decade including performances in the past four years which is considered for the Arjuna Awards.
Last year, Indian motorsport bucked the trend as rally driver Gaurav Gill won the Arjuna Award after being ignored thrice.
“Jehan’s name was discussed and he is one of the stars of Indian motorsport. If anyone can reach Formula 1 in the near future it is him and will be the third one to do so (after Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok). His time will come very soon,” FMSCI vice-president Shivu Shivappa, told PTI.
Shivappa also heads the four-wheel racing commission of FMSCI.
Daruvala is the first Indian to win the historic New Zealand Grand Prix (2017). He secured eight podium finishes in the FIA Formula 3 European Championships over two seasons (2017-2018) including couple of race wins.
Last year, he won one sprint and one feature race in the all new FIA Formula 3 Championships before graduating to another Formula 1 support series, Formula 2. Daruvala even had the Championship lead last season as he ended up finishing a creditable third with seven podiums.
Ahead of the Formula 2 season, which has been postponed to July due to the pandemic, Daruvala was signed by four-time world champions Red Bull for its junior driver program.
FMSCI president J Prithviraj told PTI that the respective commissions in the federation shortlisted the names for Arjuna nominations to the FMSCI council which eventually recommended off-road racers Pissay and Santosh besides Shahan Ali Mohsin.
Racer turned coach Akbar Ebrahim has been recommended for the Dronacharya Award.
Former president Vicky Chandhok, who is part of the FMSCI council, said he would like to see Daruvala’s name being proposed in the future since the “boy is delivering results”.
However, a source in the FMSCI said that it is unlikely that the FMSCI nominations for the Arjuna Awards will get the nod of Sports Ministry-appointed panel.
“It is unlikely given their performance over the past four years. Santosh has competed in Dakar Rally regularly but has not been close to a podium. Aishwarya has won a world title but I doubt she has done enough. Jehan easily had the best chance given his performance,” the source said.
Santosh is the first Indian to compete in the prestigious Dakar Rally with 34th being his best ever finish till date.
Pissay became the first Indian woman to win a world title last year when she secured the FIM Baja World Cup after four rounds. It is worth noting that the 24-year-old was the only one in the field to compete in four rounds and came last in three out of four races. She won the title on technicality.
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