Tharani: JK Tyre title "puts me out in market" for 2019 drive
Karthik Tharani believes winning the JK Tyre National Racing Championship “puts me out in the market” as he tries to take the next step in the motorsport ladder.
Chennai-born Tharani clinched the Euro JK title earlier this month, beating Nayan Chatterjee in a dramatic finale that saw the latter being wiped out by Manav Sharma in a championship-deciding crash.
It was Tharani’s third major title in India following his Volkswagen Polo R Cup triumph in 2014 and the MRF F1600 success in ‘15.
The 24-year-old says his latest championship win means he is now firmly under the radar of prospective teams’ and series’ bosses.
He earmarked the X1 Racing League as one of his options, with the upcoming initiative by sportscar racers Armaan Ebrahim and Aditya Patel already gaining traction for an IPL-style format and plans to include foreign racers and domestic street tracks.
“Next year I hope VW continue its TC4A (in Indian Touring Car Championship],” Tharani told Motorsport.com India. “I can be part of that project, that will be great. And obviously with the league.
“If I can be a part of it, that would be great. In that sense winning the title puts me out in the market.
He added: “X1 is kind of my banker because it seems it’s being worked on very seriously. And if I can be part of that, it in itself will be great.
“To just be a part of a professional team and to race. To be honest, to race wherever you are racing is a great first step, whether you’re doing it abroad or in India.”
Photo by: M Saad
Tharani is also keen on returning to the international motor racing scene, having made sporadic appearances in MRF Challenge and Polo Cup China so far.
As a reward for winning the JK Tyre championship, he has already been awarded scholarship to the tune of 25,000 euros to compete in the LMP3 class of European Le Mans Series with EuroInternational.
However, that amount only covers a part of the budget, with the onus on Tharani to find sponsorship for the remaining figure - believed to be in the region of at least 150,000 euros.
“The work is already going on from round 3 to make something happen for next year,” he said. “So with this championship, JK Tyre is giving the scholarship towards the ELMS, at least a part of the budget.
“But the bigger part I still have to find which is still a lot of cash. It’s not going to be easy but I’m trying my hardest. Generally I’m trying, calling people up, I’m setting this up. But it has to click. The chances are, it’s there.
“So for international, it’s absolutely down to money and the sponsors which I hope I crack at least a little bit this year.”
Looking back at the season, Tharani says beating Chatterjee in a straight fight in Round 3 was absolutely crucial and a major confidence booster heading into the season finale.
“In that race it was Nayan, it was absolutely head to head,” he said. “It was very, very close. The minute you believe the other guy is better than you, you already lose it. But you shouldn’t underestimate your rival.
“That win felt excellent to be honest. That win was quite important because to beat him and to keep position when he was at his strongest.
“That weekend he was excellent with passing people and everything. And I ended stopping that run for him, that was quite important.”