- Grand double for Michelangelo Amendola
- Manaf Hijjawi notches maiden single-seater win
Chennai, February 15: Michelangelo Amendola, the 18-year old from Belgium, notched a fine double to consolidate his top position in the championship while Jordanian teenager Manaf Hijjawi scored the maiden single-seater win of his fledgling racing career as the MRF Challenge headed towards a grand climax at the MMRT, here today.
Amendola won the day’s first and third races to take his tally of wins to five from 12 starts while 18-year old Hijjawi, in just his first full season in single-seaters, took the honours in Race-2 to provide a twist to the championship stakes.
With three more races to be run tomorrow (Sunday) in this final round of India’s only FIA-approved international championship, Amendola leads the table with 209 points, followed by Australian Dylan Young (175) who had two podiums today, Britain’s Joshua Mason (160) and Hijjawi (130).
The Belgian youngster won both his races today from lights to flag, starting from pole, and dominated to leave the pack chasing his shadow. In the day’s first race, Amendola was off to a flier and after a couple of laps had none in his rear-view mirrors.
“It was a bit boring as there was nobody in front of me and none behind me, but the competition will get tougher with reverse grids and all that,” said Amendola. It was much the same in Race-3 that he won with over 10 seconds to spare. He was followed home by Young and Mason in Race-1, and Young and British teenager Louis Foster in Race-3.
For Hijjawi, it was a red-letter day as the Jordanian, having just graduated from karting, scored a significant win as a warm-up for his forthcoming full season in British Formula 3 championship. “It’s a great feeling to score my first-ever win in a single-seater. It was a tough race, but I managed to stay in front,” said an emotional Hajjawi who survived a close fight with a display of wonderful composure under pressure to shrug off challenge from Mason for a well-deserved win. Denmark’s Valdemar Eriksen completed the podium.
Earlier, Coimbatore’s Arjun Balu (Race Concepts) chalked up a fluent and emphatic win in the Indian Touring Cars class of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Car Racing Championship (Round-1), not facing any worthwhile challenge through the 10-lap race. “I lost the boost in the very first lap and so, was very much off the pace compared to my qualifying timing. Fortunately, I managed to build sufficient lead and got home safely,” said Balu.
Balu’s team-mate from Bengaluru, Rithvik Thomas was placed first in the Super Stock class of the National championship.
The saloon car race had a combined 28-car grid of various categories – ITC, Super Stock and the support event Volkswagen Ameo Super Race. Thane’s Saurav Bandyopadhyay topped in the VW Ameo category.
The results (Provisional):
MRF Challenge (all 15 laps unless mentioned) – Race 1: 1. Michelangelo Amendola (Belgium) (22mins, 58.236); 2. Dylan Young (Australia) (23:05.941); 3. Joshua Mason (GBR) (23:06.414). Fastest Lap: Amendola (01:31.071). Race-2: 1. Manaf Hajjawi (Jordan) (23:13.797); 2. Mason (23:14.474); 3. Valdemar Eriksen (Denmark) (23:17.576). Fastest Lap: Louis Foster (UK) (01:31.178). Race-3: 1. Amendola (22:57.347); 2. Young (23:07.540); 3. Louis Foster (UK) (23:07.958). Fastest Lap: Amendola (01:30.861).
National Championship (10 laps) – Indian Touring Cars (Race-1): 1. Arjun Balu (Race Concepts) (19:18.024); 2. D Vidyaprakash (Prime Racing) (19:41.347); 3. Vishnu Prasad (Prime Racing) (19:55.112).
Super Stock (Race-1): 1. Rithvik Thomas (Race Concepts) (20:11.569); 2. Raghul Rangasamy (Performance Racing) (20:19.452); 3. Alisha Abdullah (Race Concepts) (20:31.940).
Support races (10 laps) – MRF F1600 (Race-1): 1. Raghul Rangasamy (Mamallapuram) (16:38.930); 2. Vishnu Prasad (Chennai) (16:40.163); 3. Sohil Shah (Bengaluru) (16:41.535).
Volkswagen Ameo Super Race (Race-1, 10 laps): 1. Saurav Bandyopadhyay (Thane) (19:21.422); 2. Anindith Reddy (Hyderabad) (19:22.578); 3. Dhruv Mohite (Kolhapur) (19:25.566)