Todkari wins Mercedes Young Star shootout

Greater Noida, Sep 3 (IANS) Niranjan Todkari from Aurangabad clocked the fastest lap to win the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Young Star Driver programme from among 12 finalists at the Buddh International Circuit here Monday.

Diljith Shaji from Thrissur and Mezan Anees (Bangalore) were second and third quickest after each of the finalists was clocked over three hot laps driving a Mercedes E63 AMG.

Todkari won himself a weekend with the Mercedes Petronas team during the Formula 1 India Grand Prix weekend at the BIC next month besides earning a seat in the AMG Driving Academy Basic and Advanced course in India, and also for the next level PRO-Training in Germany.

Diljith, as the first runner-up, won a seat for the AMG Driving Academy Basic and Advanced course while Anees was accorded a seat for the Basic course and a stint with professional trainers.

After a nationwide evaluation process based on different criteria like age (15-25 years), racing acumen, racing aptitude and accomplishment, FMSCI's jury comprising Arjun Balu (reigning Indian Touring Car champion), Amittrajit Ghosh (current leader of 2013 Indian National Rally Championship & 2012 INRC champion) and Sanjay Balu (former National champion with 25 years of motorsports experience) shortlisted the candidates who were invited for a one-day program at the BIC.

There were over 3200 applications from 48 cities and towns. The number was eventually pruned to 12 who assembled at the BIC for a shootout.

On his achievement, Todkari said: "I got this once in a lifetime opportunity to learn the different aspects involved in racing on international track like the Buddh International Circuit. It is a dream come true to get a chance to learn from one of the world's greatest motorsports team, the Mercedes AMG Petronas."

Eberhard Kern, Managing Director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, said: "Motorsports has been the DNA of brand Mercedes-Benz and we are proud of our long and successful association with different forms of motorsports across the globe and our unsurpassable racetrack achievements.

"It was Mercedes-Benz vision to identify and nurture motorsports talents in India and 'Mercedes-Benz Young Star Driver' programme is yet another pioneering effort in realising that vision."

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