Dubai: Belgium’s 17-year old Michelangelo Amendola set the early pace by dominating both the free practice sessions as the eighth season of the International MRF Challenge commenced at the Dubai Autodrome, here today.
Amendola, who had finished fifth overall in the 2018-19 championship, topped the time sheets in the first of the two Free Practice sessions by clocking one minute, 58.551 seconds and followed it up with a 01:58.806 in the next outing.
Finishing second behind Amendola in the red-flag interrupted FP1 were two other 17-year olds, Great Britain’s Joshua Mason (01:59.882) and Yuven Sundaramoorthy from the United States (01:59.912).
Amendola continued his consistent run in FP2 with a best of 01:58.806 which he set barely minutes from the close of the session ahead of Sundaramoorthy (01:59.524), who has some experience of driving two-litre cars having taken part in F2000 races in the US and Australian veteran Dylan Young (01:59.618) who shrugged off a spin in FP1 that led to the red flag as the marshals removed his car stranded in one of the corners.
The lone Indian in the fray, Chetan Korada struggled in both the sessions, finishing last in the nine-car field. “I had some issues with the car today, but hopefully, I will be able to do better tomorrow’s qualifying session,” said the 33-year old Chennai-based Korada.
Amendola was pleased as punch with his performance today. “It went pretty well considering that I was driving after a long time. To be honest, the last time I drove was in Chennai in February (2018-19 season), so I had no preparations. I only did a lot of physical and mental training. However, it felt like home, getting back into the car!” said Almendola.