MRF Challenge 2017: Double delight for Felipe Drugovich in season opener

Felipe Drugovich pulled off a last lap manoeuvre on Manuel Maldonado, cousin of former Formula 1 racer Pastor Maldonado, to win the second MRF Challenge 2017 race of the day

other sports Updated: Nov 17, 2017 21:05 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Felipe Drugovich,MRF Challenge,Manuel Maldonado
Felipe Drugovich benefitted from race leader Rinus van Kalmthout’s retirement to win at the MRF Challenge 2017.(MRF)

Brazilian racer Felipe Drugovich was in red-hot form on Friday as he got his MRF Challenge 2017 campaign off to a perfect start by winning both races in the season opener at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

The 17-year-old pulled off a last lap manoeuvre on Manuel Maldonado, cousin of former Formula 1 racer Pastor Maldonado, to win the second race of the day. Presley Martono also passed Maldonado in a thrilling run to the chequered flag to beat the Venezuelan by one-hundredths of a second to take second.

READ | Pavan Ravishankar sets the pace in MRF Challenge 2017 season opener

In the first race, Drugovich benefitted from race leader Rinus van Kalmthout’s retirement to win ahead of Martono and Dylan Young.

Earlier in the day, van Kalmthout was dominant in qualifying to put his car on pole by almost half-a-second, clocking two minutes and 0.754 seconds. Drugovich qualified second with Alex Karkosik in third.

Van Kalmthout had the perfect start from pole to lead into the first corner. Drugovich followed him with Young jumping from seventh to third.

READ | Jehan Daruvala to take part in Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix

Drugovich managed to stay with van Kalmthout for the first few laps before the Dutchman started pulling away. Meanwhile, Martono passed Young for third and started catching Drugovich.

It was heartbreak for van Kalmthout as he retired from the lead with two laps to go due to a mechanical issue.

Martono closed up right behind Drugovich and the two were side-by-side as they headed down the main straight. Martono tried to get past but Drugovich held on to win the first race of the season with Young ending third.

In the reverse grid-based Race 2, Maldonado jumped Julian Falchero to lead into the first corner. Drugovich had a strong start from sixth on the grid to slot into third behind Karkosik.

READ | Brazil F1 tyre test cancelled for security reasons after robbery attempts

Karkosik and Drugovich put pressure on Maldonado but the Colombian did well to stay in front. Van Kalmthout, who started last, sliced through the field and was up to sixth on Lap 5. Martono passed Falchero into the first corner on Lap 6 while second placed Karkosik was forced to retire with a mechanical problem.

On the last lap, Drugovich outbraked Maldonado to take the lead with Martono close behind. Coming out of the last corner and heading into the pit straight, Martono managed to get his nose ahead to beat Maldonado by 0.010 seconds.

It was heartbreak for Maldonado, who slipped from first to third on the last lap.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 21:05 IST