Dhruv Mohite clinched victory in the first race of the one-make Volkswagen Ameo Cup's season opening round at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore on Saturday.
The Kolhapur boy, driving the #19 car, crossed the line five seconds ahead of Jeet Jhabhak with Saurav Bandyopadhyay rounding out the podium a further five seconds adrift in third.
The top three finished in the same order they started with Mohite having taken pole position in the qualifying session earlier on Saturday.
But the race wasn't quite the walkover for him that the results may suggest. Jhabhak, starting on the cleaner side of the grid, got the better start and seized the lead from Mohite into the opening corner.
The pair then engaged in a nose-to-tail battle for the lead over the next few laps, with Mohite piling on the pressure but unable to find a way past Jhabhak around the narrow track.
In the end, a mistake from the leading #5 at the final corner, allowed Mohite to out-drag his rival down the start finish straight and reclaim the lead into the first corner on lap 5.
Back in the lead, Mohite didn't look back and ticked off the final ten laps to cruise unchallenged to the flag.
"Coimbatore as a track, its nature is that it's very narrow," Mohite told reporters after the race. "It's very difficult to make a move ... so it either has to be somebody's mistake or you have to take your chances.
"I kept on taking my chances and tried to pressurise him..."
Third place finisher Bandyopadhyay was involved in a battle of his own. The Thane-based driver, like Mohite, made a tardy start from the dirty side of the grid losing a place to Pratik Sonawane, who started fourth.
But like Mohite, he stalked his rival, building up to a move, which he finally sprung on lap 9.
"It has been an interesting weekend so far, the drivers have been competitive today, with the qualifying timings between 18 drivers being under 4 seconds," said Sirish Vissa, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India.
"I am sure the championship is going to be very tightly fought and I am looking forward to the rest of the season."
Drivers competing in the one-make series will be back on track on Sunday for the second race of the weekend. With the reverse grid system applying to the top eight, Mohite will start eighth on the grid with Shivani Pruthvi, one of two women on the 2018 grid, starting on pole.