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MRF Challenge 2013 finale.



February 14, 2014:  Championship leader Tio Ellinas heads into the finale of the MRF Challenge 2013 on pole position ahead of title rival Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Narain Karthikeyan at the MMRT in Chennai. Indian F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan, who was fastest in Free Practice 2, was forced to change his car for qualifying but still managed to qualify in 3rd place. However he will start on the front row for Race 3 on Sunday. In the MRF 1600 category, 16 year old Tarun Reddy was comfortably fastest in both practice sessions ahead of Advait Deodhar and Vikash Anand.

In the 30 minute qualifying session, Sam Dejonghe was the first to go top with a 1:33.909 ahead of Oscar King, who did a 1:33.949. Ellinas then came out and went fastest with a 1:33.257. Karthikeyan posted a 1:33.557 to go second fastest as he continued to acclimatize himself to the changed car. With 5 minutes to go Svendsen-Cook went second fastest with 1:33.452 while Ellinas went even faster by setting a 1:33.086 to be on pole position. Ellinas and Svendsen-Cook are separated by 22 points as they battle to be MRF Challenge 2013 Champion.   

Pole sitter Tio Ellinas was thrilled to be on pole after finding the perfect balance in practice. He commented, "I am very happy to be on pole in what will be an important weekend for me. This is my first visit here and the circuit is really challenging to drive on. We worked on finding the perfect setup for qualifying and I am glad it paid off in the end. The weather here will be a factor here but I am really enjoying driving on this circuit."

Second placed man Rupert Svendsen-Cook commented, "I am relieved to be second on the grid after a tough practice session. We always knew the lap was there but it was important that we put it together. It is going to be a straight fight between Tio and me and this is the perfect way to start the finale of the MRF Challenge 2013."

Narain Karthikeyan was disappointed with 3rd after going fastest in practice. He commented, "I am disappointed with qualifying but happy to atleast start on the front row for Sunday's race. Practice was great and I managed to finish close to half a second ahead with the car feeling good. We unfortunately had an engine problem and had to swap cars so took me some time to get used to it. The speed is definitely there so look forward to the race tomorrow."

The Indians enjoyed a good day with Raj Bharath qualifying in a series best 7th position with APRC Champion Gaurav Gill in 9th position. Vikash Anand struggled and will start in 14th position.

Sam Dejonghe was the fastest man in Free Practice 1 as the drivers spent time learning the circuit. He set a fastest time of 1:34:159 with Karthikeyan behind him with a 1:34:267. In Free Practice 2, Karthikeyan topped the time sheets with a 1:33:849 ahead of Sam Dejonghe, who was half a second off his pace. Races 1&2 will take place tomorrow with Races 3, 4&5 taking place on Sunday.   

Tarun Reddy continued to impress in the MRF 1600 category as he was a full second faster than the rest of the grid in both practice sessions. Behind him was Advait Deodhar, Vikash Anand, Arjun Narendran and Siddharth Trivellore. Qualifying will take place tomorrow morning ahead of Race 1.

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