Rayomand Banajee takes VW Ameo to Podium in National Drag Race

Rayomand Banajee racing a Volkswagen Ameo, stunned the competition with an unexpected third place finish in the Unrestricted Category at Round 1 of the MMSC FMSCI National Drag Racing Championship.

What started as a fun filled suggestion from Sirish Vissa, Head of Motorsport – Volkswagen India, soon turned serious as the Volkswagen Motorsport team put in an effort to reconfigure the Ameo Cup Race Car to get a quick launch off the line. With no other modifications in place, expectations were not high, considering that the car was never designed or prepared for a drag race. The competition meanwhile had prepared extremely light and fast cars, solely for the purpose of a drag race.

Article by Rajesh D’Souza | Mad About Racing

The format of a drag race has 2 cars lined up besides each other at the beginning of a straight track. A set of lights known as a Christmas tree, illuminate once the racers are ready & in position. The moment the light turns green, the racers attempt to clock the fastest possible time over a quarter mile (402 meters). The winner is the racer who has the fastest total time which is a combination of the racer’s reaction time to the lights turning green, plus the total time taken by the car to cover the quarter mile.

The Volkswagen Ameo Cup Car which still retains a lot of the traits of the road version of the Ameo uses the 1.8L engine from the Volkswagen Polo GTI. This is mated to a 6-speed sequential gearbox with paddle shifts. The body of the car is essentially stock with the added safety benefits like a FIA grade roll cage & racing seat plus a 6-point seatbelt. At such short notice, the motorsport engineers worked hard to reconfigure the ECU settings to ensure maximum acceleration at launch.

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Rayo, an eight-time Formula Racing and Karting Champion, got behind the steering wheel in a competition for the first time in 9 years and had never participated in a drag race ever before. Racers usually spend months preparing their cars tuned to perfection to ensure that they can cover the quarter mile in the fastest possible time. Cars are segregated into various categories depending on their cubic capacity (CC), type of engine, etc. The Unrestricted category is the most prestigious where essentially all cars compete against each other without any restrictions of any sort.

The fastest time of the event was set by Pratap Jayaram. His highly modified Reva with a Hayabusa engine, saw him clock a total time of 13.102 seconds. Joel Joseph in a highly modified Honda clocked the second fastest overall time of 14.184 seconds, closely followed by Rayo with a total time of 14.364 seconds. Interestingly, Rayo also recorded the fastest reaction time of the entire event at 0.502 seconds only.

Rayo also bagged another podium when he raced a completely unmodified Skoda Octavia Diesel in the Pro Stock Diesel category. He came 3rd with a total time of 17.271 seconds once again with the 3rd quickest reaction time of the entire event at 0.564 seconds.

“Its been 9 years since my last race, which I incidentally won at this very track. I never imagined my next podium would be in a Drag Race! The entire thing started off as a fun thing. I really must thank Volkswagen Motorsport for the effort they put in. The Ameo Cup Car is a brilliant car & definitely the best touring car in India right now. Even more amazing is the fact that it has all been developed inhouse.

Taking part in the Unrestricted category (with a circuit racing car) meant I knew we had no chance & so I was genuinely shocked when I heard we were on the podium. It clearly proves how much potential this car has considering we are almost double the weight of the other cars which are prepared only for Drag racing. A big thanks also to Karthik & Aditya for helping improve & ofcourse Sirish who’s idea this was to begin with & also gave complete support.” Said a visibly pleased Rayo.

Sirish Vissa, Head of Motorsport -Volkswagen India, added “This was a fun project for us over the weekend as this was the first time that a drag race was held together with the national racing championship. We wanted to support the event and also see what our new car would do. However I can safely say that will all the effort put in by the team and the drivers, we will be back doing it again.

While we were pleasantly surprised by the result. We need to prepare harder for the next round.”

The next round of the National Drag Racing Championship will be conducted on 19th & 20th of August in Chennai.