Dubai, November 23: Michelangelo Amendola from Belgium completed a dream week with three wins out of five races as the first round of the FIA-approved MRF Challenge international series concluded at the Dubai Autodrome, here today. Also notching wins were Australia’s Dylan Young and Indian-American Yuven Sundaramoorthy, for both of whom it was their maiden success in the championship.
The 17-year old Amendola dominated the entire round, being quickest in Free Practice and qualifying sessions before winning both the races yesterday and another today besides finishing second in the other two outings, to give himself a great start in the championship stakes.
Young, 30, in his seventh appearance in the MRF Challenge, finally got the monkey off his back by notching his first win in the championship, while 16-year old debutant Sundaramoorthy, whose family roots are entrenched in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, reaped rewards for his persistence.
Young had to work hard for his maiden success. Quick at the start to take the lead, the affable Aussie hung on gamely to hold off pole-sitter Amendola by putting in some solid laps when it mattered. The Belgian had another poor start from pole position and dropped to third behind Young and Joshua Mason (Great Britain) before easing past the British driver in the second lap to catch up with the Aussie. However, Amendola was unable to get past the experienced Young who went on to win.
Reflecting on his success, Young said: “It was a good race and the car felt really good. I got a good start which set it all up. Once I got the lead, I just put my head down and controlled the race from thereon. I am over the moon with this first win in MRF Challenge!”
In Race 4 that had a reverse grid, pole-sitter Eriksen was quickly passed by Mason and Sundaramoorthy in the very first lap. The trio held positions until the sixth lap even as behind them, Amendola, who started from fifth, moved up a spot while Young dropped from sixth to seventh. The Belgian made another move to pass Eriksen into third spot. Up the road, Mason came under increasing pressure from Sundaramoorthy. In the ninth lap, Mason spun, allowing Sundaramoorthy, Amendola and Eriksen to get ahead and finish in that order.
“It feels good to win the race especially after the crash yesterday in the previous race. Today, the race went very well. Josh (Mason) drove amazingly and all I could do was to put pressure on him, hoping to force him into a mistake as I was not close enough to pass. I feel great to have scored my first-ever win in the F2000 category,” said Sundaramoorthy.
The fifth and last race of the Dubai round was a comfortable outing for Amendola once he fought off his rivals at the start before going into a virtual cruise control mode for a comfortable win ahead of Mason and Young.
“It’s been a great week and yeah, feels good to win three of the five races. That was my target coming here to Dubai. I had to fend off others early in the last race, but after that, it was fairly comfortable as I opened up a good lead,” said Amendola who was followed home by Mason and Young.
The lone Indian entrant, Chetan Korada, showed some improvement in his pace to pick up some points though he could not offer any serious challenge to the front-runners.
The second round of the championship will be held at the Bahrain International Circuit on December 12-14 before moving on to the grand finale in Chennai in February next year.
Day 2 Results
Race-3: 1. Dylan Young (Australia); 2. Michelangelo Amendola (Belgium); 3. Joshua Mason (Great Britain). Race-4: 1. Yuven Sundaramoorthy (USA); 2. Amendola; 3. Valdemar Eriksen (Denmark). Race-5: 1. Amendola; 2. Mason; 3. Young.
Report & Photos: Madras Motor Sports Club