NOBUHARU MATSUSHITA KICKS OFF MRF CHALLENGE 2015 WITH DOMINATING WIN IN ABU DHABI

Arun Mammen, MD MRF Tyres, Fittipaldi, Matsushita, DennisJapanese GP2 driver Nobuharu Matsushita dominated day 1 at the MRF Challenge 2015 season with a dominating win at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. Pietro Fittipaldi finished in 2nd place after a race long battle with Jake Dennis, who took the final podium spot. Nikita Troitckii took advantage of a last lap clash between India’s Tarun Reddy and female driver Tatiana Calderon to win. He was followed home by Calderon in 2nd place and Fittipaldi in 3rd. Earlier in the day, Matsushita setting the fastest time to claim pole position with Jake Dennis fastest in both practice sessions.

In Race 1 pole-sitter Matsushita got the perfect start and comfortably led into the first corner. Behind him 2nd placed man Dennis was slow to get off the block and lost out to a fast starting Fittipaldi. Dennis tried to get back in front in the third corner but Fittipaldo shut the door to stay ahead. Behind them Tatiana Calderon was in 4th place ahead of Russian driver Nikita Troitckii. Indian driver Tarun Reddy had a great start to move up from 9th on the grid to 6th place. Matsushita pulled away with Dennis still unable to find a way past. The safety car came out on lap 4 when British driver Laura Tillett collided with Karthik Tharani from India. When it went green again a lap later, Matsushita continued from where he left off and pulled away again. He won the race by over 4 seconds with Fittipaldi surviving a last corner mistake to hold off Dennis to finish in 2nd place. Behind them Troitckii finished in 4th ahead of Calderon and Reddy. Reddy will start in reverse grid pole position for the next race.

Matsushita leads the fieldIn Race 2 Indian driver Reddy started on pole and jumped into the lead ahead of Calderon and Dennis. Dennis made a move on Calderon on lap 4 and went wide, letting Troitckii and Fittipaldi through. Behind them Matsushita had a bad start but recovered to come back to 5th place ad catch up with the leading pack. The top 5 were covered by less than 2 seconds with two laps to go. Reddy went into the last lap, with a 0.5secs lead ahead of Calderon. Coming into the last corner Reddy and Calderon clashed with each other as she tried to pass the Indian. Troitckii took advantage of both drivers going off track to win with Calderon in second and Fittipaldi in 3rd place. Reddy finally finished in 4th place ahead of Matsushita.

Nobuharu Matsushita was happy to win after a tough morning. He commented, “I did my first lap in the car this morning and it took me some time to adapt to the MRF F2000. The more I drove the better it felt and in the race the car was really good. I managed to pull away and hold on to the lead. I am enjoying driving here as it is always giving me more track time ahead of the GP2 race next month. The field is competitive and its going to be really close all weekend.”

Pietro Fittipaldi finished in 2nd place after a race long battle with Dennis. He commented, “This was a great result and nice way to start the championship. I had a good start and got Jake at the start. After that it was just a matter of managing the pace. I made a mistake on the final corner of the last lap and Jake closed in but I am happy to finish in 2nd place. Nobu (Matsushita) was really quick but I hope to battle with him for the rest of the weekend. There are lot of quick drivers around so will be tough this weekend.”

Earlier in the day Matsushita took pole position with a time of 2:12.419 after having gearshift problems in practice. The battle for 2nd was very tight with F3 driver Dennis clocking a 2:12.803 and Fittipaldi a 2:12.823. Dennis was fastest in both practice sessions as well.

MRF Challenge Race 1 Results:

  • Nobuharu Matsushita
  • Pietro Fittipaldi
  • Jake Dennis
  • Nikita Troitckii
  • Tatiana Calderon
  • Tarun Reddy

MRF Challenge Race 2 Results:

  • Nikita Troitckii
  • Tatiana Calderon
  • Pietro Fittipaldi
  • Tarun Reddy
  • Nobuharu Matsushita
  • Jake Dennis

MRF Challenge Qualifying Results:

  • Nobuharu Matsushita
  • Jake Dennis
  • Pietro Fittipaldi
  • Nikita Troitckii
  • Tatiana Calderon
  • Sean Walkinshaw

MRF Challenge Free Practice 2:

  • Jake Dennis
  • Pietro Fittipaldi
  • Tatiana Calderon

MRF Challenge Free Practice 1:

  •  Jake Dennis
  •  Tarun Reddy
  •  Nikita Troitckii

About MRF Challenge

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.

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

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