Picariello dominates MRF Challenge in Bahrain

Sakhir (Bahrain), Nov 21 (IANS) Debutant Alessi Picariello continued his dominance in Round 2 of the MRF Challenge with his second win of the weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit here.

Picariello, who started sixth, won comfortably on Friday night, setting the fastest lap along the way. Pietro Fittipaldi took the lead of the championship with second place after a close fight with Nikita Troitckii. He now leads the championship by 12 points over Troitckii with Tatiana Calderon in third, 18 points away from the leader.

The MRF Challenge, which is the support race for the Six Hours of Bahrain, had its second night race in succession after having a flood lit race in Abu Dhabi in Round 1.

In the reverse grid race, Sean Walkinshaw started from pole along with Matheus Leist. Walkinshaw was slow off the line which allowed Leist to come down the inside and take the lead. It did not last for long as Race 1 winner Picariello had a storming start to be second after the third corner of the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).

He wasted no time getting past Leist at Turn 5 and started to pull away from the rest of the pack. Fittipaldi also had a great start and moved up to third behind Leist.

Tarun Reddy’s weekend went from bad to worse when he crashed out of the race after contact with Calderon on Lap 1. Calderon managed to stay on track with a damaged car in seventh.

Fittipaldi passed Leist for second with Troitckii also getting past a lap later. Picariello set the fastest lap on the penultimate lap before taking the chequered flag after another flawless performance.

Fittipaldi beat Troitckii by 0.091 seconds to take the lead in the championship. Harrison Newey, son of Formula 1 engineer Adrian Newey, had his best finish of the season in fourth place ahead of Leist and Calderon.

Belgian Picariello had the perfect weekend with pole position, fastest lap and two race wins.

“Everything has been perfect this weekend. I have not raced for a year now but felt comfortable with the car straight away,” he said.

“I had a good start, moved into third in the second corner, then to second two corners later and finally into the lead. After that it was just about managing the pace. I worked well with my engineer so very happy with this weekend.”

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