Last year, Mercedes-Benz kick-started its programme for young racers in India, called the 'Young Star Driver'. Back then, it received about 3,000 entries from all over the country. This year, for the second edition, it received 5,970 applications, almost double the number. And for good reason.
You see, the programme, meant for 18 to 25 year-olds, evaluates applicants on the basis of their aptitude and knowledge about racing, and out of all entries, just 24 drivers are chosen. These 24 are then invited to the Buddh International Circuit, and after the elimination rounds, the number is whittled down to 6 finalists. They're handed AMGs, and asked to go round the circuit as fast as they can. Quickest lap time wins. Simple.
This year, the finalists were put into the brand-new CLA45 AMG (a car we rather liked), and S Raj Bharath beat the others to the title with a 2m26s lap, which was just three seconds off the time set by last year's winner in an E63 AMG. G Vikash Anand came in second, and Ali Yavar Hayat finished third.
Bharath should be a chuffed young lad, for he will now not only receive basic and advanced training from the AMG Driving Academy at the BIC, he will also go on to be a part of the Pro driving course at the Nurburgring, and, depending on where his loyalties lie, get to meet either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton at the Singapore GP.