Champ Drugovich unstoppable in MRF Challenge; Maiden career win for Nikanth Ram

By | February 4, 2018

Chennai, 4 Feb 2018: Young Nikanth Ram from Coimbatore and in Arka Motorsports livery chalked up maiden win of

MRF Challenge 2017 champion Felipe Drugovich (centre) flanked by second-placed Presley Martono (right) and third-placed Rinus van Kalmthout at MMRT, Chennai on Sunday, 4 Feb 2018. Image by Anand Philar.

his saloon car racing career as the first round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Racing Championship 2018 concluded at the MMRT circuit, here on Sunday.

While Ram, a 21-year old commerce graduate from Coimbatore, bagged full points, team-mate Ashish Ramaswamy from Bengaluru achieved a double by winning the second race earlier, but retired with an expired engine in the weekend’s third outing.

Meanwhile, 17-year old Brazilian Felipe Drugovich stamped his authority in the MRF Challenge 2017 as he swept to victory in both the races run today to finish the season with 10 wins from 16 outings over four rounds.

Drugovich, who had sealed the championship on Saturday itself, had few problems in Race 3 after easing his way to the front of the field. He set such a hot pace that midway through the 20-lap race that he finished some 11 seconds in front of second-placed Indonesian Presley Martono who was followed home by Rinus van Kalmthout from the Netherlands.

In the final race of the 2017 MRF Challenge later in the day, Drugovich, starting second on the grid, got a jump on pole-sitter Rinus van Kalmthout of the Netherlands in the very first lap and then gradually increased the lead to notch another fluent win.

While Drugovich finished the season with 333 points, Martono (254) and Kalmthout (247) completed the top three positions in the championship.

In the day’s first saloon car race, Ashish Ramaswamy was again the dominant force despite starting fourth on the reverse grid. He jumped two places by the end of the first lap, tailed leader Vidya Prakash for a couple of more laps before moving into the lead. Thereafter, he kept increasing the lead to emerge a comfortable winner while veterans Vijaya Kumar and Vidya Prakash finished behind him in that order while pole-sitter Nikanth Ram was a non-finisher following a spin.

Nikanth, however, was handed a victory on the platter in the next outing when Ashish, enjoying a massive lead after starting from pole, retired with the engine problem in a fourth of the eight-lapper. Nikanth who was running second, made the best of the situation to score a maiden win in his saloon car racing career and finished ahead of Prime Racing’s Raja Ram and Biren Pithawalla of Team N1.

The results (Provisional): MRF Challenge – Race 3 (20 laps): 1. Felipe Drugovich (Brazil) (33mins, 09.353secs); 2. Presley Martono (Indonesia) (33:20.422); 3. Rinus van Kalmthout (Netherlands) (33:21.398). Race 4 (20 laps): 1. Drugovich (30:08.812); 2. Kalmthout (30:13.094); 3. Martono (30:16.118).

National Championship – Saloon cars: Indian Touring Cars (Race 2, 12 laps): 1. Ashish Ramaswamy (Arka Motorsports) (23:25.024); 2. B Vijaya Kumar (Prime Racing) (23:51.922); 3. D Vidya Prakash (Prime Racing) (23:58.350). Race 3 (8 laps): 1. V Nikanth Ram (Arka Motorsports) (15:55.693); 2. C Raja Ram (Prime Racing) (15:59.000); 3. Biren Pithawalla (Team N1) (16:11.372).

Indian Junior Touring Cars (Race 2, 11 laps): 1. Kamlesh Parmar (Team N1) (23:55.103); 2. Chrys D’Souza (Unimek Racing) (24:24.572); 3. Prabhu AS (Arka Motorsports) (24:24.812). Race 3 (8 laps): 1. D’Souza (17:48.207); 2. Prabhu (17:48.434); 3. Nikunj D Vagh (Team N1) (17:49.100).

Esteem Cup (12 laps): 1. Raghul Rangasamy (Performance Racing) (24:20.853); 2. Vinod S (Team N1) (24:33.727); 3. Archit Mylanda (Performance Racing) (25:06.829).  Race 3 (8 laps): 1. Rangasamy (16:21.542); 2. Vinod S (16:30.865); 3. Mylanda  (16:43.432).

Super Stock (12 laps): 1. RP Rajarajan (Performance Racing) (24:55.565); 2. Srinivas Teja K (Performance Racing) (25:18.133); 3. Swajit Acharaker (Team N1) (23:38.158 + 1 lap). Race 3 (8 laps): 1. Srinivas Teja K (16:52.869); 2. Acharaker (17:02.854); 3. Rajashekar R (Infinite Piston) (17:09.812).

Vidiem Superbikes Cup (Support race) – Race 2 (8 laps): 600cc – 1.Siddhanth Koundinya (Bengaluru) (15:30.765); 2. Vishwadev Muraleedharan (Coimbatore) (15:39.311); 3. Ritesh Sapre (Mumbai) (15:45.182).

eom/MMSC release