Chennai: 17 year old Brazilian Felipe Drugovich was crowned the 2017 MRF Challenge Champion at the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) in Chennai.
Drugovich finished in 3rd and 6th place but that was enough to seal the championship. Rinus van Kalmthout dominated Race 1 ahead of Presley Martono and Drugovich. Martono won an action packed Race 2 ahead of van Kalmthout and Danial Frost.
In Race 1 Martono made the perfect start to lead into the first corner with van Kalmthout passing 2nd placed Drugovich into the first corner. Van Kalmthout then passed Martono around the outside of corner 3 by pulling off a brilliant move.
The Dutch driver immediately pulled away as Martono fended off Drugovich and Falchero.
Drugovich tried to put pressure on Martono but the Indonesian held his ground. Van Kalmthout comfortably won the first race of the weekend with Martono in 2nd place ahead of Drugovich. Falchero crossed the line in 4th place ahead of the impressive Frost and Alex Karkosik.
Van Kalmthout also had the distinction of becoming the first ever driver to break the 1min30 barrier as he set a new lap record at the MMRT. He set a fastest lap time of 1:29.967.
Before Race 2 started Drugovich was given a 10 place penalty for a fuel infringement and started back in 14th place. Karkosik started on pole alongside Frost in the reverse grid Race 2. Karkosik had the perfect start and led into the first corner ahead of Frost. There was chaos at Turn 2 as Manuel Maldonado, Pavan Ravishankar and Perdana Minang all crashed. Falchero, who is in a tight battel for 2nd place in the championship, was forced to retire after making contact with van Kalmthout. There was more action as race leader Karkosik spun out of the lead. The race was red flagged on lap two with 5 cars being out.
At the restart Frost led ahead of Martono and van Kalmthout. Frost did a great job keeping both of them behind. On lap 11 Frost ran wide allowing both drivers past. Martono went on to win the race ahead of van Kalmthout and Frost. Harri Jones finished in 4th ahead of Dylan Young, who held off Drugovich.
Finishing 6th gave Drugovich the points need to win the title with two races still remaining. An elated Felipe Drugovich, commented, “It feels fantastic to win the championship. I have not been happy with the balance of the car today but I just did what I had to win the championship. This year has been great and consistency has been the main reason behind my title win. The weekend in Abu Dhabi stands out as the most memorable moment of this championship.”