Picariello on his way to another win

Debutant Alessi Picariello continued his dominance at Round 2 of the MRF Challenge 2015 with his second win of the weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Picariello, who started 6th on the grid, won comfortably setting fastest lap along the way. Pietro Fittipaldi took the lead of the championship with his 2nd place after a close fight with Nikita Troitckii. He now leads the championship by 12 points over Troitckii with Tatiana Calderon in 3rd position, 18 points away from the leader.

The MRF Challenge 2015, which is the support race for the 6 Hours of Bahrain, had its second night race in succession after having a flood lit race in Abu Dhabi in Round 1. In the reverse grid race, Sean Walkinshaw started in pole position along with Matheus Leist. Walkinshaw was slow off the line which allowed Leist to come down the inside and take the lead. It did not last for long as Race 1 winner Picariello had a storming start from 6th on the grid to be in 2nd position after the 3rd corner. He wasted no time getting past Leist in corner 5 and started to pull away from the rest of the pack. Fittipaldi also had a great start and moved up to 3rd position behind Leist.

Tarun Reddy’s weekend went from bad to worse when he crashed out of the race after contact with Calderon on lap 1. Calderon managed to stay on track with a damaged car in 7th position. Fittipaldi passed Leist for 2nd place with Troitckii also getting past a lap later. Picariello set the fastest lap on the penultimate lap before taking the chequered flag after another flawless performance. Fittipaldi beat Troitckii to 2nd position by 0.091 seconds to take the lead in the championship. Harrison Newey, son of legendary F1 engineer Adrian Newey, had his best finish of the season in 4th place, ahead of Leist and Calderon.

Belgian driver Alessio Picariello had the perfect weekend with pole position, fastest lap and 2 race wins. He commented, “Everything has been perfect this weekend. I have not raced for a year now but felt comfortable with the car straight away. I had a good start, moved into 3rd position in the second corner, then to 2nd two corners later and finally into the lead. After that it was just about managing the pace. I worked well with my engineer so very happy with this weekend.”

Russian driver Nikita Troitckii was happy to be 2nd in the championship after a double podium this weekend. He commented, “My start was good and I quickly moved up to 4th place behind Fittipaldi. We both passed Leist and then it was a close battle with him till the end but could not find a way past. It has been a very good weekend for me and am now 2nd in the championship. I look forward to going to Dubai for the next round.”

Championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi was relieved to end the weekend on a high. He commented, “The weekend has been tough but am happy to finish in 2nd place. Towards the end of the race I started having some gearbox problems but managed to just stay ahead at the finish line. This championship is really competitive and close but can’t wait to head to Dubai for the next round.”

Race 2 Results:

1. Alessio Picariello
2. Pietro Fittipaldi
3. Nikita Troitckii
4. Harrison Newey
5. Matheus Leist
6. Tatiana Calderon
7. Sam Dejonghe
8. Sean Walkinshaw
9. Nerses Isaakyan
10. Max Fewtrell

Championship Standings:

1. Pietro Fittipaldi – 98 points
2. Nikita Troitckii – 86 points
3. Tatiana Calderon – 84 points
4. Nobuharu Matsushita – 80 points
5. Alessio Picariello – 56 points
6. Jake Dennis – 53 points

About MRF Challenge

In its fourth year, the MRF Challenge 2015 will feature 16 MRF Formula 2000 race cars, which have been made in India by JA Motorsport based in Coimbatore, in collaboration with Dallara, world’s largest racing car manufacturer and also Jayem Automotives Ltd. The Formula 3 style car has been built by JA Motorsport in technical collaboration with Dallara, and is considered to be the fastest of its kind in Asia. The MRF Formula 2000 is powered by a 2.0 litre 210 BHP Renault Sport Engine and will have a Hewland 6-Speed sequential gearbox. The race car has also been crash tested to FIA F3 safety standards and will race with MRF ZLO slick and wet tyres.

The MRF Challenge has fielded a strong driver line-up in the last two seasons, with drivers going on to win races in GP2 and British Formula 3. The MRF Challenge Alumni include GP2 drivers like Arthur Pic, Tio Ellinas, Jon Lancaster, Conor Daly, GP3 drivers like Ryan Cullen and Carmen Jorda, Former Formula 2 Champion Luciano Baccheta and British Drivers Harry Tincknell (WEC) and Rupert Svendsen-Cook.

MRF Challenge 2015 Calendar:

Round 1: October 29-31, 2015, Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit
Round 2: November 18-20, 2015, Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuit (World Endurance Championship Support Race)
Round 3: December 17-19, 2015, Dubai, Dubai Autodrome
Round 4: January 29-31, 2015, Chennai, Madras Motor Race Track

Championship Standings:

7. Nobuharu Matsushita – 80 points
8. Pietro Fittipaldi – 68 points
9. Tatiana Calderon – 61 points
10. Nikita Troitckii – 53 points
11. Tarun Reddy – 47 points