Brazilian driver Pietro Fittipaldi put on an impressive display from 4th on the grid to win Race 4 of the MRF Challenge 2015 at the Dubai Autodrome. Fittipladi beat Alessio Picariello and Nikita Troitckii to further extend his championship lead to 16 points. Earlier in the day Picariello won Race 3 after the race was red-flagged on lap 7 of 10. Picariello won ahead of Troitckii and Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi now has 168 points, with Troitckii in 2nd with 152 points and Calderon in 3rd with 147 points. Picariello is a further 13 points away in 4th place.
In Race 3 pole sitter Picariello kept his lead into the first corner with Sean Walkinshaw and Max Fewtrell losing positions. Troitckii moved into 2nd position with Fittipaldi and Tatiana Calderon behind him. Dylan Young crashed on lap 2 which brought out the Safety Car for two laps. At the restart Troitckii continued to put pressure on Picariello and finally found a way past on lap 6. The lap was red-flagged on the same lap when Arjun Narendran and Mathew Draper collided. It was stopped ultimately after six laps, handing Picariello the win, as he was ahead on the previous lap. Troitckii had to settle for 2nd with Fittipaldi completing the podium.
The Brazilian also clocked the fastest lap of 1m59.863s before the red flag. Calderon and Harrison Newey rounded off the top five. Walkinshaw was sixth, Tarun Reddy seventh, the Indian gaining two places after starting ninth. Max Fewtrell ended eighth ahead of Giuliano Alesi, with Dutch debutant Rick Breukers completing the top 10 ahead of Jose Abadin.
Race 4 started with Newey taking the lead of the race from reverse-grid pole man Walkinshaw, with Fittipaldi slotting in third and Picariello moving up ahead of Troitckii. Fittipaldi got past Walkinshaw and started piling the pressure on Newey. Race leader Newey was then penalised for a jump start and then soon black flagged to not coming into the pitalane straight away. Fittipaldi took the lead and started to pull away.
Picariello caught up with Calderon and passed her to move up to 2nd place, as the Colombian then lost another place to Troitckii.
Fittipaldi won comfortably ahead of Picariello. Troitckii held off Calderon to take the final spot on the podium, with fellow Russian Nerses Isaakyan finishing in a strong fifth. There was further drama later on with the coming together of Reddy, Alesi and Fewtrell, who were fighting for fifth. All dropped to the back of the grid and out of the points. Debutant Breukers finished in 6th ahead of Laura Tillett, Young, Abadin and Walkinshaw
Alessio Picariello was pleased after taking his 4th win of the season. He commented, “First race of the day was another close battle. I had a good start and managed to pull away but Nikita came on strong after the Safety Car and I had to hold him off. The red flag cut the race short but feels great to get yet another win. In the second race of the day I had a good start and managed to pass a few drivers but Pietro was too far ahead and I had to settle for 2nd place.”
Championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi was thrilled to leave Dubai with his lead intact. He commented, “It feels great to stand on the top step of the podium again. The car was great this weekend and I had a great start. I overtook Walkinshaw and Newey and then it was just about managing the gap to Alessio. I can’t wait to get to India to do the final round of the season.”
Tarun Reddy penalised and loses Race 2 win
The Indian driver had initially been named as the winner of the red-flagged race on aggregate times, despite the fact Calderon finished first on the road after passing Reddy after the restart. However, third-place driver Nikita Troitskiy lodged an appeal against the result, complaining of being pushed off the road by Reddy in their fight for second. The Russian’s appeal was successful, resulting in a 20-second time penalty for Reddy and pushing him down to 12th place.
MRF Challenge 2015 Race 3:
1. Alessio Picariello
2. Nikita Troitckii
3. Pietro Fittipaldi
4. Tatiana Calderon
5. Harrison Newey
MRF Challenge 2015 Race 4:
1. Pietro Fittipaldi
2. Alessio Picariello
3. Nikita Troitckii
4. Tatiana Calderon
5. Nerses Isaakyan
December 17, Thursday: Free Practice 1 & 2
December 18, Friday: Qualifying (9am), Race 1 (13:15), Race 2 (15:40)
December 19, Saturday: Race 3 (10:10), Race 4 (13:15)
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