Dubai: The 8th edition of MRF Challenge, India’s only FIA-approved international championship and one of Asia’s premier single-seater competitions will kick-start at the Dubai Autodrome here on Thursday.
The Formula 2000 car, prepared by Coimbatore-based Jayem Automotives, is powered by 2-litre Mountune Duratec engine producing 230 BHP while almost matching Formula 3 in speed and power. The car boasts of a Hewland six-speed sequential gearbox equipped with Integrated dash and paddle-shift system.
Over the years, the MRF Challenge has featured quite a few high-profile racers like Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher; Harrison Newey, son of Formula 1 design guru Adrian Newey; Manuel Maldonado, cousin of former Formula 1 driver Pastor Maldonado; female Formula 1 test driver with Alfa Romeo Racing Tatiana Calderon; last season’s champion Jamie Chadwick, who is also the first-ever champion of the W Series and the first-ever female driver to win an international race at Bahrain International Circuit.
Mr. Arun Mammen, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, MRF Tyres said: “It has been an exciting journey for us as we present the eighth edition of the MRF Challenge. We provide identical cars to all the drivers and so, the key differentiating factor is the driving ability. It has also been our constant endeavour to develop the car which is now among the fastest single-seaters in Asia. The MRF Challenge also offers us rich data that in turn helps us to develop further the slicks and wet tyres that are specially manufactured for this championship.
We have positioned the MRF Challenge in the winter months between November and February to enable drivers to keep themselves race-fit during the off-season. We thus look forward to another season of exciting races.”
Chennai-based 33- year old Chetan Korada, is the lone Indian on the grid that includes teenagers from Europe and Australian veteran Dylan Young who has been a regular fixture in MRF Challenge.
Looking ahead to the season, Korada said: “This will be my second international season, also with MRF Challenge. My approach this year would be completely different. Last year was all about learning the car. I didn’t take part in the National championship this year, but did four days of testing in Malaysia in the summer. I have been studying the data, as to where I can improve. I am continuing with MRF Challenge as they have been very supportive.
“Also, a lucky charm has come into my life now with the birth of my daughter two months ago. So, overall, I am feeling good and hope to put in much better performances this season.”
The final list of drivers confirmed for the championship will be announced on completion of documentation process.HSB