By : ARUP DAS
NEW DELHI :
Amith Kutti’s journey from being a gaming enthusiast to being invited to be mentored by India’s first Formula 1 racer, Narain Karthikeyan, and to train and test with Volkswagen Motorsport India, is truly stuff that dreams are made of. After winning the championship, Karthikeyan, went on to call Kutti, “The fastest gamer in India.” At a time when COVID-19 cast a gloom worldwide, and what has now turned out to be an unprecedented lockdown period, 16-year-old, Kutti, was busy taking the virtual racing world by storm, while safely ensconced at his home in Chennai, by winning The Indian SIM Racing League (ISRL) Season 3.
Like any motorsport fan, Amith, has been following Formula 1 ever since he can remember. Being a die-hard fan of the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, we know where his “Never-say-die” fighting spirit comes from. While Amith did dominate the recently concluded season, winning six out of the 10 races, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for him when he joined this league. Making his debut in the mid-season 2, he was new to the eRacing game and though he isn’t too keen on revisiting that time in his life, he does admit that he didn’t take it too seriously, back then.
For Season 3, Kutti decided on a more planned approach and was well-prepared for the races. He was also a lot hungrier to make a mark. “My target in Season 3 was to win it and for that, I practised every day for an hour even before the league started.” Apart from winning the league, the biggest bonus for Kutti was to compete with the likes of world-class racers such as Narain Karthikeyan and Arjun Maini from Formula 2. Speaking about handling the pressure, Kutti said, “Obviously they are very fast, so it was a tough challenge for me. Arjun really showed some pace and on three races I managed to finish P1 and I had him behind me all the time. I can tell you it was really tough as he kept putting a lot of pressure on till the last lap where he was hardly half a second behind me.”
ISRL also throws a curveball at the top 12 finishers of a race, who end up starting from the back of the grid in the next one. So, after winning a race, Kutti had to start from the back and even at that position, he continued to finish P1. He gives us the lowdown on how he managed to win the races from 31st position. Kutti said, “It’s all about being aware of your surroundings. You have to predict what the others will do, but the main thing I had to keep in mind was that as I had managed to win the previous race, I knew I was faster than others, so initially, it took me some time, but with consistent pace, I was able to catch up with the rest in the second half of the race. It’s about pacing yourself.” Also, “In the first part of the race, I had to ensure that the car didn't get damaged, otherwise, it is as good as over for me,” says the young racer.
Even though the euphoria of winning the league is still sinking in, Kutti, remains level-headed knowing very well that this is only the first step. He will soon start his training at Karthikeyan’s NK Racing Academy, but as virtual races take place within the comfort of the racer’s home, we asked him how is he planning to deal with external pressures like the weather, the track conditions and the actual speed of the car. “Yes, it certainly has an impact on your mental ability,” says Kutti. “Furthermore, in a real-life car, you always have this fear that you’ll crash. [However,] the basics are similar to the simulator, like the steering wheel and the pedals, and that experience will help me in the future,” says Kutti, who already tested a Formula LGB4 car, (the entry-level single seater), in March, which took him around two hours to get used to, and where he also managed to improve his time.
Here’s wishing Kutti the very best as he gets ready for some vigorous training to spin real wheels ahead.