The MRF Challenge 2015 season will kick-start this weekend with the first round being held at the famed Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. The FIA sanctioned MRF Challenge, which is the only Indian based motorsport series to continuously race internationally, will go one further by going to yet another F1 circuit in the Yas Marina. The Four round calendar will see the leading single-seater racing category in India go international for the second and third round as well, as they head to Bahrain in November, and Dubai in December. The final round will take place in Chennai in January. MRF also confirmed prize money of Rs. 6,500,000 for the winners of the Championship.
Mr. Arun Mammen, Managing Director, MRF Tyres, commented, “We are excited to launch the fourth season of the MRF Challenge. The MRF Challenge has been a great opportunity for young drivers to establish themselves, and give drivers the best chance to race on some of the world’s leading Formula One circuits. The series has always been about showcasing India’s R&D capabilities and encouraging highest levels of competition through some of the best young drivers in the world. For the third successive year we will support the World Endurance Championship and go one level further by also running with the GP2 & GP3 cars in Bahrain. The R&D team has been working really hard to ensure we provide the best possible tyres for the Challenge and this will further help develop tyres for road cars. With two new circuits on the calendar in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, we further confirm our commitment to promote motorsport not only nationally, but internationally as well.”
This year the grid will have another promising line-up headed by GP2 driver Nobuharu Matsushita. Matsushita is the team-mate to GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne. He will be joined by 2-time F1 World Champion Emmerson Fittipaldi’s grandson, Pietro Fittipaldi who won the Protyre Formula Renault Championship in 2014. Jake Dennis, who finished 3rd in this year’s FIA F3 Europe championship with 6 wins, will also be one of the favourites this weekend. Harrison Newey, son of famed Formula One engineer Adrian Newey will be joined by F3 woman driver Tatiana Calderon. She will not be the only woman on the grid with Alice Powell and Laura Tillett also returning to the series.
Karthik Tharani Singh will get his first taste in the MRF Challenge, prize for winning the 2015 MRF 1600 Championship. He will be joined by second runner-up Arjun Narendran and 2014 champion Tarun Reddy.
India’s first ever Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan was once again quick to praise MRF and the Challenge in its 4th year. He commented, “I have been working closely with MRF for many years and it is great to see their passion for the sport only increase season by season. The MRF Challenge is a unique series and probably one of the most competitive in Asia. I have been testing the cars since the beginning of the year and we have worked hard to make the cars much lighter this year. As in any motorsport series, tyres play a major role and the MRF ZLO Slicks that we have developed for this year will make the cars even faster. I expect the cars to be around 1.5 seconds quicker this year which will bring them closer to the European F3 cars.
In its third 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.
Mr. J Anand, Managing Director, JA Motorsports, is looking forward to yet another exciting season of racing ahead. He commented, “The MRF Challenge is slowly becoming a popular destination for European drivers. This is a testament to the commitment from MRF Tyres to make this series one of the biggest in Asia. We continue to push the boundaries by targeting new circuits year after year. We have another great line-up of drivers from rookies to professionals who are all trying to use this platform to reach the pinnacle of motorsport.”
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