Coimbatore, June 22: Local ace and former champion Arjun Balu, driving a Race Concepts-prepared Honda City, marked his return to racing after a five-year gap by topping both the free practice sessions in the premier Indian Touring Cars class as the second round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Racing Championship got underway at the Kari Motor Speedway here on Friday.
Balu, 43, put in consistent laps in both the sessions at the 2.1 Kms long circuit, clocking a best of 01minute, 09.004 seconds in the first outing and improving it to 01:08.766 in the next. Behind him in the time sheets were Arka Motorsports team- mates Ashish Ramaswamy from Bengaluru and veteran Narayanaswamy Leelakrishnan (Coimbatore). The three drivers looked in a league of their own to set up a close qualifying session on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Raghul Rangaswamy from Kancheepuram was the fastest in the MRF F1600 free practice sessions with a best of 01:02.672 in FP1 and though his second session was restricted to just two laps to preserve his tyres, no other driver went quicker.
Sandeep Kumar (Chennai) topped the second practice session while Kolkata’s Arya Singh, the 2017 Formula LGB 1300 champion, Chennai’s Ashwin Datta and Nirmal Umashanker, both from Chennai, filled the top four spots in this session, and all separated by less than a second.
Bengaluru’s Varun Anekar (Race Concepts) dominated the two combined practice sessions for Super Stock, Indian Junior Touring Cars and Esteem Cup cars by topping the time sheets as did Chennai driver, Nabil Hussain (MSport) who was the fastest in the Formula LGB 1300 class that has a 19-car grid, clocking a best of 01:08.432 in the first of the two outings.