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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Fittipaldi leads famous surnames out to MRF Challenge in Dubai

Pietro Fittipaldi and Giuliano Alesi, son of former F1 race winner and Ferrari driver Jean Alesi, among those driving in the MRF Challenge.
The MRF Challenge field at Dubai Autodrome this weekend includes Emerson Fittipaldi’s grandson, Pietro. Courtesy Total Communications
The MRF Challenge field at Dubai Autodrome this weekend includes Emerson Fittipaldi’s grandson, Pietro. Courtesy Total Communications

DUBAI // Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Formula One champion Emmerson Fittipaldi, will be looking to extend his championship lead in the 2015 MRF Challenge when the series makes its debut at Dubai Autodrome this weekend.

The third and penultimate round of the FIA-sanctioned MRF Challenge, India’s only single-seater international racing series, features a 16-driver line-up following earlier rounds at Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

Fittipaldi leads the championship on 12 points from Russian driver Nikita Troitckii, who recorded a double podium finish in Bahrain.

Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon had a tough outing in the last round, but she is third in the standings at just two points adrift.

Belgian driver Alessio Picariello stunned the field to dominate in Bahrain with pole position, fastest lap and back to back race wins.

He has a lot to do in the title chase, lying 42 points behind Fittipaldi in fifth.

The series has a scoring system similar to F1, with 25 points for a race win, 18 for second, 15 for third going all the way back to 10th place.

There are also two bonus points for both pole position and the fastest lap.

“We have a truly international grid with 10 countries being represented this weekend,” said Arun Mammen, managing director of series sponsors MRF Tyres. “The circuit will be a new challenge for the drivers and equal for everyone as none of the drivers have driven here before.”

India’s first F1 driver and MRF brand ambassador Narain Karthikeyan will also be present in Dubai. Karthikeyan played a key role in development of the MRF F2000 cars and works closely with MRF to constantly improve the tyres.

Harrison Newey, son of famed Formula One engineer Adrian Newey, finished strongly in Bahrain and will be looking to continue his form this weekend.

Making his debut will be Giuliano Alesi, son of former F1 race winner and Ferrari driver Jean Alesi.

The Indian contingent will be led by Tarun Reddy and Indian Touring Car champion Arjun Narendran.

Reddy is currently seventh in the championship, more than 50 points behind the leader after a poor outing in Bahrain.

In its fourth year, the MRF Challenge 2015 features 16 MRF Formula 2000 race cars, which have been made in India by JA Motorsport based in Coimbatore, in collaboration with Dallara, the world’s largest racing car manufacturer, and also Jayem Automotives Ltd.

The Formula 3-style car is considered to be the fastest of its kind in Asia.

KART RULE FOR AL BARWANI AND WALTON AS SEASON COMES TO AN END

Runaway winners and champions-elect in their respective categories, Emirati Atef Al Barwani and Oliver Walton returned to contest the final round of the SWS Sprint Series at the Dubai Kartdrome on Monday night.

The pair used the occasion as winning laps to celebrate winning the SWS Senior and SWS junior titles.

Al Barwani had done enough in earlier rounds this season to ensure he topped the standings in the SWS Sprint Series Senior, claiming his fifth such title which makes him the UAE’s all-time biggest winner in this form of karting.

“It feels like a Deja vu and doing it for the 5th time in a row is something very, very difficult,” Al Barwani said, “so I’m very blessed and pleased to be the only Emirati to have this title and keep going strong with a lot of new talents and potential champions in the near future.”

“It’s been a tough contest but a true pleasure to be part of this series,” added the newly crowned champion.

Walton was also back in action for the first time this winter, his early season results in the SWS Junior class had him top of the championship table from the outset, where he remained until the chequered flag waved to bring the season to an end.

In the SWS Sprint Masters category, Merhi Ziad took top honours ahead of Adrian Jones in second and Alexandros Annivas third.

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