Genk (Belgium): Young Indian driver Jehan Daruvala went within a whisker of claiming an incredible German Karting Championship crown, finishing second in the standings in one of Europe's top competitions.
The final race, on the Belgian track of Genk last weekended, was the perfect theatre for a thrilling finale. The closing round came at the end of a fiercely fought season that saw Jehan and Championship rival Martijn van Leeuwen stand in a class apart from the rest of the field: between them, the two racers had won seven of the eight finals disputed up to the Genk weekend, amassing podiums and building a huge gap over the remaining opponents.
The India, in particular, had impressed with four wins and one second place in his first season of senior karting - among some of the world's best racers. With all the elements for a brilliant showdown between the only two drivers with a shot at the title, the weather intervened to play a role in the proceedings. Rain on Sunday morning meant that, after a solid performance in qualifying on Saturday, Jehan was to face a completely different set of circumstances on the day of the finals.
A battling display in the first final wasn't enough, however, to maintain the championship lead on van Leeuwen - the Dutchman finishing second to Jehan's sixth place. And when everything was ready for a sizzling second final, with the standings hanging in the balance before the closing race of the weekend - the Sahara Force India driver requiring to comprehensively outscore his rival to win the title - controversy struck.
A botched start by van Leeuwen saw the Dutchman collide with guest driver Alessio Lorandi, resulting on them both falling off the track. With Jehan only needing to be in the top three to win the championship and having already secured second place in the race, Jehan was looking in good shape.
Unexpectedly and without any apparent safety or track issues, the race officials threw a red flag, which resulted in the grid being reformed with the drivers in their original starting positions ? nullifying Jehan?s advantage. After a further red flag and a dubious decision to commence the race in single file, Jehan's fate was determined. Although he claimed fourth position, the advantage gained by van Leeuwen from the decision to restart the race in qualifying order could not be overcome.