Presley Martono fastest in FP2 even as top-7 are tightly bunched: MRF Challenge 2017

By | December 7, 2017

Presley Martono tops FP2 in Dubai MRF Challenge on Thursday. An MRF image

Dubai, 7 Dec 2017: Indonesian driver Presley Martono continued his impressive start to the Round 2 of the MRF Challenge 2017 by going fastest in practice at the Dubai Autodrome here on Thursday.

This weekend’s FIA inscribed MRF Challenge race promises to be a thriller with the top severn drivers all closely bunched together. Martono’s time of 1:56.996 was just enough to beat Rinus van Kalmthout’s morning practice time of 1:57.046.

The drivers wasted no time going out in the opening practice session as most of them were experiencing the circuit for the first time as they pushed the MRF F2000 to the limit. Last year’s race winner, Felipe Drugovich, set the tone with a 2-min lap time as the times began to tumble quickly thereafter.

Van Kalmthout set a 1:59.453 to set off a chain of fastest laps from Martono, Drugovich and newcomer Louis Gachot. After several changes at the top it was van Kalmthout who set the fastest time with a 1:57.046. Martono, Drugovich, Julien Falchero and Alex Karkosik completed the top 5, with less than a second covering them.

Free practice 2 saw Drugovich once again setting the early pace as he immediately went fast with a 1:58.451. The session was as competitive as the first one with drivers taking turns to set the fastest lap. With two minutes remaining, Martono became the first driver to dip under the 1:57 mark and went fastest with a time of 1:56.996. Van Kalmthout finished in 2nd place ahead of Karkosik, Falchero and Danial Prost. Championship leader focused on longer race runs and finished in 7th place.

Friday’s qualifying will be important with more than seven drivers in with a chance of pole position. Presley Martono said: “It sure feels good to top the practice session here in Dubai but being on top tomorrow is more important for me. We have made great progress since Bahrain and I will have to be on top of my game to beat these guys tomorrow.”

Rinus van Kalmthout, who took his first race win in the MRF Challenge in Round 1, felt the car was good. “The car feels really good and I am confident for tomorrow. The track was a little cooler in the evening, so have had a good understanding of what we have to do for tomorrow,” he quipped, ready to mount the challenge.

Qualifying will take place tomorrow along with Race 1 and 2.

Free Practice 1 (FP1): 1. Rinus van Kalmthout 1 min 57.046 secs; 2. Presley Martono 1:57.101; 3. Felipe Drugovich 1:57.290; 4. Julien Falchero 1:57.406; 5. Alex Karkosik 1:57.481.

Free Practice 2 (FP2): 1. Presley Martono 1:56.996; 2. Rinus van Kalmthout 1:57.202; 3. Alex Karkosik 1:57.245; 4. Julien Falchero 1:57.257; 5. Danial Frost 1:57.464.

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