Pole Position man Alessio Picariello

Debutant and 2013 Formel 3 ADAC Masters driver Alessi Picariello took a stunning pole position at Round 2 of the MRF Challenge 2015 at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Russian driver Nikita Troitckii and India’s Tarun Reddy will start 2nd and 3rd on the grid after missing out on pole position by 0.044 and 0.048 seconds respectively in one of the closest qualifying sessions ever in the MRF Challenge. Championship contenders Tatiana Calderon and Pietro Fittipaldi will start 4th and 5th on the grid.

With an action packed motorsport weekend in Bahrain, the MRF Challenge drivers only got one practice session ahead of the 30 minute qualifying session. After a sunny morning session, qualifying was totally different with cool temperatures and the night sky greeting the drivers. Fittipaldi was quick to top the times after putting in a 2:06.587 followed by Troitckii with a 2:06.786. The times started to tumble with all drivers going faster. With 5 minutes to go is where all the action started with Picariello going fastest with a 2:03.390. Troitckii was on course to better it but just fell short. Reddy set the fastest time in the first two sectors but just missed out as well. Fittipaldi could do no better but Calderon started setting purple sectors as well, threatening Picariello’s pole position. She fell 0.080secs short, which put her in 4th place.

The MRF Challenge 2015 started first in one of the biggest motorsport weekends in the region, with the GP2, GP3 and World Endurance Championship (WEC) also on display this weekend. In the only practice session of the weekend, Troitskiy lapped in a 2m02.766s to set the fastest time of the session. He was 0.297s ahead of Reddy, who had completed the most laps in the session. Fittipaldi slotted in at third, while Sean Walkinshaw was fourth and Picariello completed the top five. Tatiana Calderon was in 6th place, with Indycar and Formula 1 winner Juan Pablo Montoya helping out his fellow Colombian.

Belgian driver Alessio Picariello was surprised to be in pole position in his first ever race in the series. He commented, “In the morning practice session it took me some time to get used to the car and tyres. With only one practice session I knew I had to learn things fast. I felt comfortable straight away and was able to push in the qualifying. I am thrilled to be on pole position and amazed at how competitive this series is. Tomorrow will be tough but I am confident of going for the win”

Russian driver Nikita Troitckii felt he could have been on pole but was happy to start from the front row. He commented, “I had a good session in the morning and just worked on getting more comfortable with the car. I felt we had the pace for pole position but we just missed out. My race pace this morning was good so am looking forward for the race tomorrow.”

India’s Tarun Reddy had his best qualifying in the series with 3rd position. He commented, “I really enjoy driving on this circuit. I have been quick from the start but not enough for pole position. To be 3rd on the grid here is great, especially with all the GP2 and WEC guys in attendance. I will push for the win tomorrow.”


1. Alessio Picariello – 2:03.390
2. Nikita Troitckii – 2:03.434
3. Tarun Reddy – 2:03.438
4. Tatiana Calderon – 2:03.470
5. Pietro Fittipaldi – 2:03.503

Practice 1:

1. Nikita Troitckii – 2:02.766
2. Tarun Reddy – 2:03.063
3. Pietro Fittipaldi – 2:03.262
4. Sean Walkinshaw – 2:03.429
5. Alessio Picariello – 2:03.462

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:

1. Nobuharu Matsushita – 80 points
2. Pietro Fittipaldi – 68 points
3. Tatiana Calderon – 61 points
4. Nikita Troitckii – 53 points
5. Tarun Reddy – 47 points