Chennai: One of Asia’s top single-seater racing championships, the MRF Challenge that, over the past seven seasons has evolved into an incubator of talent, is coming home to the MMRT here this weekend when the third and concluding round of the winter series will be held from Friday.
The two flyaway rounds in Dubai (November) and Bahrain (December) showcased the skills of emerging talent such as Belgium’s Max Defourny and British girl Jamie Chadwick. The two 20-year olds between them have won six of the 10 races in the two rounds. Defourny leads the championship with 201 points ahead of Chadwick (183) and German teenager Andreas Estner (124). As such, there is plenty at stake in the final round with five races to be run.
Joining the championship for the final round are Saudi Arabia’s rising female talent Reema Al Juffali who recently won the TRD 86 Cup race in Abu Dhabi, and 17-year old Glenn van Berlo, from the Netherlands, who is moving to single-seater racing from karting.
The busy weekend will also witness the first round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Racing Championship 2019 with the MRF Formula 1600, saloon cars in three categories, including the top-end Indian Touring Cars, and the Formula LGB 1300 which has attracted 20 entries.
Mr Arun Mammen, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, MRF Ltd, said: “The MRF Challenge once again comes ‘home’ to the MMRT this weekend for the grand finale which will witness another round of close and exciting races as was the case in the two previous outings in Dubai and Bahrain. For the current season, we have provided a slightly upgraded car and tyres that won the approval of the contestants. For the drivers, it will be a first time on the highly technical MMRT circuit and their major challenge will be to learn the track quickly. MRF is also proud to present three FMX riders from abroad who will entertain and thrill the spectators with their aerial acrobatics. All these factors, I am sure, will contribute to a weekend of high-octane action that is not to be missed.”
The MRF Challenge, organized by the Madras Motor Sports Club, has entrenched itself as one of the leading winter series in the region as it offers a car powered by a 2-Litre Mountune Duratec engine producing 230 BHP with advanced aerodynamics. The car boasts of a Hewland six-speed paddle-shift gearbox equipped with Integrated dash and paddle-shift system. Fitted with the MRF Z.L.O. slick tyres, the F2000 is among the fastest racing cars in the region, and has, in the past, attracted many talented young drivers, notably Mick Schumacher, who is poised to break into Formula One.
The races in Dubai and Bahrain dished out extremely close contests up and down the grid, though Defourny and Chadwick have dominated the front-runners. The Belgian has been the most consistent driver with three wins and six podium finishes in 10 outings while Chadwick also has never held back on the track, winning three races, all of them in the Bahrain round, besides as many podium spots.
One of the highlights of the weekend card is the trio of topnotch FMX riders, Hannes Akermann (Germany), and Australians Shaun Webb and David Ford who will be performing heart-stopping aerial stunts.