India’s top woman racer, who is also a pilot, shines in the F4 SEA Championship in her first ever race in the Island country.
India’s top woman racer, the Mumbai-based Sneha Sharma, overcame hostile conditions and problems with her car to jump into the lead in the ladies’category after Round Three of the highly competitive Formula 4 South East Asia Championship at the Chang international Circuit, Thailand.
Sneha won the leading trophy in each of the four races to grab the Overall Cup for women in the Thailand round. It was her second International win this year, after she won Race 1 in March and finished second overall in the Ladies Cup of the Proton Saga Advanced category in the MSF series’ first round held in Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
“I am totally excited with my second international victory this year. This series is going to help me get super points which are required to obtain a Formula 1 license in the future,” said Sneha.
She even clocked the best time of 1:46:6 to finish in the Top Eight against 11 of the finest racers from 10 different countries, most of them from Europe.
“Before the race I was extremely exhausted as I had some sponsor-related events lined up before Buri Ram (North Eastern province of Thailand). But I had done extensive preparations, like working out especially in the sun with full race gear on to test my limits. I even puked one day becasue of the rigorous training. Also, I did a lot of track study before going there,” she added.
The 28-year- old, who is also an airline captain by profession, and is supported by Indigo Airlines and JK Tyre, raced in a Formula 4 Race car for the first time at Buri Ram but proved to be up for it.
She raced in the Formula 4 Race car under team Mertius GP in the Open Category and took a highly creditable starting position of pole in Race 2 and P2 in Race 3, giving her the chance to score good points for the overall season.
In Race 1 on a wet track, she finished in the top 10 with a lap time of 2.01.7. She improved her lap time to 1.49.7 in Race 2 to finish in the top eight, despite damaging her rear wing. She has a top 10 finish and top nine finish in Race 3 and Race 4 with improved timings of 1.47.5 and 1.46.7.
“I am going faster with every race I drive in the championship,” she said.
Sneha admitted that her experience of training and competing in Malaysia helped her in races in its neighbouring island.
“The Malaysia track helped in learning the car there to an extent. Though the track is much narrower with fewer overtaking opportunities, it is more physical in some ways. And here I had a first time wet race (Race 1) also in this powerful car,” she said.
“I had to drive one race (Race 2 from pole) like this. When I was running first in the race, I got hit by another driver and had to work hard to recover and get into the points,” she added.
The record-setting racer among the women felt that sponsors coming on board for her races has taken the pressure off her.
“Now that I have been able to acquire sponsors for the race i.e Indigo and JK Tyres, I can focus more on my mental and physical fitness. I would still have to fly 15 days a month which include doing up to four flights a day. So, I got to fit some workout time in it as well and make sure my body recovers from all the pressurisation cycles,” she says, and adds, “I also couldn’t afford new tires for practice or Race 4, which couldn’t give me the advantage as other drivers to push as new tyres can make up to two seconds of difference. But I am hoping to afford more performance benefits from the next race through proper sponsorship,” she said.
The fourth round of Formula4 SEA is scheduled for June 21, again in Thailand. In all, there will be seven more rounds through Asia, including two in India in July.
“I am already looking forward to the race weekend. I am working really hard on the simulator, on my physical fitness and mental strength as well. The aim is to dominate my class and get into the Top five overall for India,” Sneha declared.