Picariello crossing finish line-small

Debutant and 2013 Formel 3 ADAC Masters driver Alessi Picariello took a commanding win in Race 1 of Round 2 of the MRF Challenge 2015 at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Nikita Troitckii finished in a strong 2nd position to boost his championship hopes while Tatiana Calderon held off a charging Pietro Fittipaldi to finish in 3rd place. Fittipaldi’s championship lead to Calderon has also been cut to 4 points with Troitckii a further 9 points behind.

The MRF Challenge 2015, which is the support race for the 6 Hours of Bahrain, saw Race 1 being held in perfect sunny conditions. Indian driver Tarun Reddy, who did a great job to qualify in 3rd position yesterday, had a clutch problem on the grid, which forced him to start last and from the pitlane. At the start, Picariello had the perfect start and stormed into the lead with Calderon jumping Troitckii for 2nd place. Behind them, Fittipaldi slotted into 4th place with another series debutant and MSA Formula 4 driver Matheus Leist in 5th place.

As Picariello pulled away at the front, Troitckii started to put pressure on Calderon and soon passed the female driver on lap 3 to move into 2nd place. As Troitckii set off after the leader, Fittipaldi closed the gap to Calderon looking to find a way past. There was a six car battle for 7th place with Harrison Newey holding off a train of drivers. Picariello had no problem as he crossed the chequered flag in 1st position ahead of Troitckii. Calderon held off Fittipaldi to take the final podium spot. Leist finished in 5th place with Sean Walkinshaw in 6th . Newey finished in 7th position, followed by Dylan Young, Sam Dejonghe and Max Fewtrell. Towards the end, Tarun Reddy joined the battle and made up seven places to finish 11th. Karthik Tharani finished in 12th place with Arjun Narendran in 14th place.

Belgian driver Alessio Picariello, who surprised with pole position yesterday, was thrilled to take win on debut. He commented, “I was a little worried about the start as I have never practiced a start in this car but it went off perfectly. I managed to pull out good gap and then it was all about managing the pace. As I have not had much experience in these cars I wanted to make sure that I took care of the tyres as well. It was a good race and the car and tyres were perfect so very happy with my performance.”

Russian driver Nikita Troitckii was happy to finish in 2nd place after losing out at the start. He commented, “My start was not good and Tatiana (Calderon) got past. Once I found my rhythm I managed to catch her and get past. I tried to close the gap to Alessio but we were doing similar lap times so I decided to settle for 2nd place.”

Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon was satisfied with 3rd place after a tough race. She commented, “I am happy to finish on the podium but the race was quite difficult. I did not have the pace to hold off Nikita (Troitckii) in the first half of the race and I just managed to hold off Fittipaldi in the second half. I have closed to within 4 points of the championship leader now so am satisfied with that.”

Race Results:

  • Alessio Picariello – 20:38.123
  • Nikita Troitckii – 20:41.830
  • Tatiana Calderon – 20:44.767
  • Pietro Fittipaldi – 20:45.233
  • Matheus Leist – 20:46.695
  • Sean Walkinshaw – 20:54.877
  • Harrison Newey – 21:00.050
  • Dylan Young – 21:00.122
  • Sam Dejonghe – 21:00.543
  • Max Fewtrell -21:01.014

Championship Standings:

  • Nobuharu Matsushita – 80 points
  • Pietro Fittipaldi – 80 points
  • Tatiana Calderon – 76 points
  • Nikita Troitckii – 71 points
  • Jake Dennis – 53 points
  • Tarun Reddy – 47 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:

  • Nobuharu Matsushita – 80 points
  • Pietro Fittipaldi – 68 points
  • Tatiana Calderon – 61 points
  • Nikita Troitckii – 53 points
  • Tarun Reddy – 47 points