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HIGH on wheels

Deepak Chinnappa has not let broken bones deter him from his karting forays. He is determined to kart his way into international fame.



Deepak Chinnappa: passion for wheels runs in his clan — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

THE PASSION for wheels runs in the Chinnappa clan. Deepak Chinnappa's incredible run in his maiden year on the karting circuit, which culminated in a double triumph in the MRF Asia Zone National Karting Championship and Indian National Karting Championship, held in Bangalore recently, might have surprised a few, but not his father, C.K. Chinnappa, who is an avid rallyist. "True, I expected him to win a few events, but Deepak has exceeded my expectation in the first year," says Chinnappa.

The 16-year-old Deepak first started out on bikes, but after two crashes, and a broken leg, the youngster opted for the safety of a four-wheeler. "I began racing on two-wheelers in 1995-96 as a kid and competed at various venues across the country, but two successive accidents, one at Mysore, and the other during a Nandi Hill climb, near Bangalore, forced me to drop out of two wheeler races. As a safety measure, I opted for karting. I did not compete in 2002 because of my10th standard examinations. But 2003 proved to be a very successful season," says Deepak.

The 2003-2004 series saw Deepak on a new high. Out of 12 races, he had four top spots and the rest as podium finishes in the Danny and MRF Series. He is slated to take part in JK Event here later this month and Rotex chamionship in April. The best driver of the Rotex, goes to the World Series and Deepak is hoping for a good show at the meet.

Deepak attributes his success to hard work and to the guidance of his father Chinnappa. "He has been a great influence on me. He is also a good guide.

Fatherly help for Deepak came in the most crucial area. Chinnappa had an uncanny eye to spot the basic mistakes most others did and steer his son clear of them. This helped Deepak along first in minimising the errors.

"To a large extent, I was able to eliminate some of the basic mistakes, which others make due to his help. Of course, luck had also played a good role in my success. I never had much of problem in most events," says Deepak.

The double triumph as overall champion in the Asia Zone National Karting championship and Indian National Karting championship at home was a memorable occasion for Deepak. But he rued the fact that he failed to finish on top in the AZNKC, after collision. "I would have loved a top spot finish in both events here, but unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. I still made it to the top as I had enough points in the kitty," says Deepak.

Karting is the first step that one takes in F-1 racing, which, of course is the big dream of Deepak. "My heart is there and I know it takes lot of effort to get to that level. I am willing to work for it," asserts Deepak. But before getting there, there are other frontiers to conquer in karting like scoring in the World Series. Right now, that is the aim, and I am looking beyond competing on the Indian circuit," says Deepak.

The competition on karting scene is very tough and there are clutch of youngsters who are as good as the others and Deepak does not want to stay complacent after this season's success. "It is pretty tough out there. The guy behind you is often a fraction of a second behind you and one needs to get a good start and stay focussed," says Deepak.

He is also looking forward to race on Rotex karts, which are fast and are of international class. But Rotex karts do not come cheap. Deepak has already realised that to reach the apex of acclaim he ought to turn his rich promise into achievement. To do that he needs the helping hand of a sponsor.

Deepak's father and mentor, Chinnappa sees lot of promise in the young lad. "He has to compete with the best at international level and then start beating them. There are lot of international meets, but what Deepak needs is a good sponsorship deal.

This is an expensive sport and one needs lot of support to compete at the national and international level. We also need good karts and right now the only support, we get is from his college, Oxford Pre-University College, which allows him to concentrate on the sport," says Chinnappa.

Meanwhile, Deepak soldiers on with vision of glory on the track.

KHALYAN N. ASHOK

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