MRF Challenge: Pole for Ellinas, Karthikeyan third
Posted on Feb 14 2014 | IANS
Chennai, Feb 14 : Championship leader Tio Ellinas took the pole position ahead of the concluding round of the MRF Challenge 2013 while his nearest contender Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Narain Karthikeyan qualified second and third, respectively here Friday.
Indian F1 driver Karthikeyan, who was fastest in Free Practice 2, was forced to change his car for qualifying, but still managed to qualify in third place. However he will start on the front row for Race 3 Sunday.
In the MRF Formula 1600 category, 16-year old Tarun Reddy was comfortably fastest in both practice sessions ahead of Advait Deodhar and Vikash Anand.
In the 30-minute qualifying session, Sam Dejonghe was the first to go to the top clocking 1:33.909 ahead of Oscar King who did 1:33.949.
Ellinas then came out and went fastest with a 1:33.257. Karthikeyan posted a 1:33.557 to go second fastest as he continued to acclimatize himself to the changed car.
With five minutes to go, Svendsen-Cook went second fastest with 1:33.452 while Ellinas was even quicker at 1:33.086 to be on pole position. Ellinas and Svendsen-Cook are separated by 22 points as they battle to be MRF Challenge 2013 championship.
Ellinas was thrilled to be on pole after finding the perfect balance in practice on his very first visit to the MMRT track.
"I am very happy to be on pole in what will be an important weekend for me. This is my first visit here and the circuit is really challenging to drive on. We worked on finding the perfect setup for qualifying and I am glad it paid off in the end. The weather here will be a factor here, but I am really enjoying driving on this circuit," said Ellinas.
Svendsen-Cook said: "I am relieved to be second on the grid after a tough practice session. We always knew the lap was there but it was important that we put it together. It is going to be a straight fight between Tio and me and this is the perfect way to start the finale of the MRF Challenge 2013."
Karthikeyan was disappointed with third position after going fastest in practice and said that it took time for him to adjust to the change of engine.
"I am disappointed with qualifying but happy to at least start on the front row for Sunday's race. Practice was great and I managed to finish close to half a second ahead with the car feeling good.
"We unfortunately had an engine problem and had to swap cars, and so it took me some time to get used to it. The speed is definitely there and I look forward to the race tomorrow," said Karthikeyan.
The Indians enjoyed a good day with Raj Bharath qualifying in a series best seventh position with APRC Champion Gaurav Gill in ninth. Vikash Anand struggled and will start in 14th position.
Tarun Reddy continued to impress in the MRF F1600 category as he was a full second faster than the rest of the grid in both practice sessions. Behind him were Advait Deodhar, Vikash Anand, Arjun Narendran and Siddharth Trivellore. Qualifying will take place Saturday morning ahead of Race 1.