• MRF Challenge Round 2 in Bahrain from Thursday
  • Sakhir Grand Prix circuit set for five races

Sakhir (Bahrain): The young racers in the MRF Challenge 2018-19 championship are in for a rare treat of getting to drive on a full-fledged Formula One Grand Prix track when the state-of-the-art Bahrain International Circuit here plays host to the second round from December 6 to 8.

For the first-timers on the 12-car grid that is brimming with talented young and fearless drivers, it will be an unforgettable experience to race on a GP track which has three straights and 15 corners, not to mention the subtle gradient changes. The idyllic setting is expected to provide more of thrilling and closely contested races that were witnessed in the first round at Dubai last month.

The MRF Challenge is now in its seventh season and comprises od three rounds of five races each in Dubai, Bahrain and Chennai. It proved to be a nursery of racing talent. Several drivers, notably Mick Schumacher who is all set for Formula 2 next year after two seasons in MRF Challenge, have graduated to higher levels or used Asia’s premier winter championship offering cars with F3 Dallara chassis and powered by 2-litre engines, to further hone their skills. All cars are fitted with specifically designed MRF Z.L.O. racing tyres.

Mr Arun Mammen, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, MRF Ltd, said: “The first round of MRF Challenge in Dubai last month, dished out some exciting fare as the drivers fought it out up and down the grid, while happy at the opportunity the championship has provided them to move to the next level of racing. In fact, it reflects MRF Challenge’s primary objective of offering young racing talent an ecosystem that help nurture their ambitions. Over the years, the MRF Challenge has proved to be a big stepping stone for racing aspirants who have gone on to fare well at the highest levels of racing. We now look forward to the second round in Bahrain and I am sure, the competitors will be eager to race on a full-fledged Formula One circuit.”

The Dubai round saw 20-year old Belgian Max Defourny, a graduate of Formula Renault 2.0 Euro Cup, underlining his talent by winning two of the five races and finishing on the podium in the other three. The strong performance fetched Defourny 106 points, well ahead of Britisher Jamie Chadwick, the lone female racer on the grid, who picked up 78 points with three podium finishes after close battles with Singapore’s Danial Frost (70), the winner of Race-2.

Ranged behind the trio are four drivers separated by just three points – 18-year olds, German Andreas Estner (50 points) and Finland’s Patrick Pasma (49), who won a race apiece, Belgian teenager Michelangelo Amendola (49) and Czech Republic’s Petr Ptacek (47).

For India’s lone representative on the grid, MRF Challenge debutant Chennai-based Chetan Korada, it has been a steep learning curve after several years in the Indian National Racing Championship. He managed to score two points in the Dubai round, but more importantly, improved his lap timings with each outing. “I hope to do much better in Bahrain after the seat-time I had in Dubai. I need to work on a few aspects of my driving, like braking, but I am confident of a better show in Bahrain,” said the 32-year old after the Dubai races.

Two Free Practice sessions and qualifying round are scheduled for Thursday (Dec 6) while two races will be run on Friday (Dec 7) and three more on Saturday (Dec 8).


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