Grand double for Max Defourny; wins for Andreas Estner, Patrick Pasma
Dubai, Five races and four winners accurately reflected the highly competitive grid of MRF Challenge as Belgium’s 20-year old Max Defourny achieved a splendid double while Andreas Estner (Germany) and Patrick Pasma (Finland) won the previous two races of the day at the Dubai Autodrome here on Saturday.
For Defourny, the Round-1 of the MRF Challenge proved memorable as he won Race 1 and 5 apart from podium positions in the other three races. Defourny finished the Round 1 with 106 points, ahead of Great Britain’s Jamie Chadwick (78) and Singapore’s Danial Frost (70), winner of Race 2 yesterday. The MRF Challenge heads to Bahrain (Dec 6-8) for the next round before moving to Chennai (Feb 8-10) for the championship finale.
Defourny could have done even better, but he messed up his pole-position start in Race-3 where he lost track position by Turn-1 itself in the very first lap, but recovered to finish third. “I think, I could have done better and won a couple of more races. I made a few mistakes, but more important was that I picked up points at the start of the championship. My win in Race 5 was far more satisfying than that in Race 1. I won more comfortably and on tyres that I had used in the previous four races,” said Defourny.
In the day’s first race, Andreas Estner, was off to a great start, moving from fourth to first as the pack dived into Turn-1, and, thereafter, literally won as he pleased as he left rest of the field, including pole-sitter Max Defourny, scrabbling for positions. While Estner disappeared into the distance, Britisher Jamie Chadwick slotted herself into P2 which she defended gamely against close attention from Defourny with the Belgian first dropping to fourth before tucking himself behind the British girl for the rest of the race.
Race-4 was all about Pasma who made capital of his reverse grid pole-position start to open up a sizeable lead. Behind him, Defourny set a scorching pace to move from fourth to second and bore down on Pasma. In a tense battle, the Finn defended well to win while Defourny picked up his fourth podium with a second-paced finish ahead of fellow-Belgian Michelangelo Amendola.
“The pole position gave me a lot of confidence and I managed to open up a good lead. In the last couple of laps, Max (Defourny) was close behind me, but I managed to survive,” said Pasma.
In the fifth and final race of Round 1, it was Defourny all the way after starting from pole position and with each of the 10 laps, he increased the lead for his second win of the week by nearly 10 seconds. Meanwhile, Chadwick, the only female competitor on the grid, came through a tough midfield battle to finish a deserving second ahead of Singapore’s Danial Frost, winner of Race 1 yesterday.
India’s Chetan Korada, though finishing way down the grid in all the five races, took some positives from the first round. “I am gradually getting used to the car and this is reflected in my ever-improving timings. I hope to have a better outing in Bahrain next month and hopefully, by the time we get to Chennai in February, I should be more competitive and fighting for mid-grid positions,” said the 32-year old Chennai-based driver competing with a prosthesis leg.
The results (all 10 laps):
Race-3: 1. Andreas Estner (Germany); 2. Jamie Chadwick (GBR); 3. Max Defourny (Belgium). Fastest Lap: Defourny (01:57.038). Race-4: 1. Patrick Pasma (Finland); 2. Defourny; 3. Michelangelo Amendola (Belgium). Fastest Lap: Max Defourny (01:58.729). Race-5: 1. Defourny; 2. Chadwick; 3. Danial Frost (Singapore). Fastest Lap: Jamie Chadwick (01:59.402).