Young Brazilian racer Felipe Drugovich takes charge of the MRF Challenge as the series heads to India.
With its ‘fly-away’ races done, the 2017–18 MRF Challenge is set to move back to India where it will be part of a race weekend that will feature the MRF F1600 series too. There are no Indian drivers on the grid this season and the junior drivers in its ranks are yet to prove themselves in high profile racing series. Nonetheless, the MRF Challenge continues to serve as a technical showcase for MRF Tyres and Jayem Automotive. Together the two companies have collaborated to build, by far, India’s fastest and most advanced single-seat racing car.
Seventeen-year-old Brazilian driver Felipe Drugovich had the perfect weekend under the lights in Abu Dhabi as he won the final race of Round 3 of the MRF Challenge. Drugovich now takes an 86 point lead to Chennai, India, for the final round with 110 points available. Drugovich had a lights to flag win ahead of Rinus van Kalmthout and Julien Falchero.
Starting on pole for the final race of the weekend, Drugovich made the perfect start yet again, taking a lead into the first corner ahead of van Kalmthout, Falchero and Presley Martono. Martono tried to put pressure on Falchero, but the French driver defended well. There was action behind as Nazim Azman and Alex Karkosik battled for fifth place. Azman went wide to stay ahead of Karkosik but lost the position in the very next lap as the Polish driver passed him into the first corner.
At the front there was no stopping the dominant Brazilian as he crossed the finish line in 1st place. Van Kalmthout finished in second ahead of Falchero and Martono. Karkosik and Robert Megennis rounded off the top six.
Drugovich also had the distinction of becoming the first driver to top all sessions in an MRF Challenge weekend as he was the fastest in both practice sessions, qualifying and won all 4 races. He currently leads the championship with 260 points, ahead of Martono (174), Van Kalmthout (165) and Falchero (165).
Championship leader Felipe Drugovich was thrilled after a dominant weekend. ‘I don’t think I have ever had a perfect motorsport weekend like I have had in Abu Dhabi’, he said. ‘The car was amazing. My team was unbelievable so this is dedicated to them. It is important to have good rhythm here and every race it came easily.’
Rinus van Kalmthout was happy to be in 2nd place after a qualifying crash on Thursday put him on the back foot. ‘My crash on Thursday cost me dearly,’ he said. ‘Today we showed that we had the pace to fight at the front. I tried to match Felipe’s pace but he was too quick this weekend.’