News & events
News & events
Tio Ellinas wins 2013 edition of the MRF Challenge
Feb 17, 2014
February 16, 2014: Cyprus driver Tio Ellinas is the MRF Challenge 2013 Champion as the nail-biting season came to an end here at the MMRT track on Sunday. Going in to the crunch race, nothing separated the title contenders Ellinas and Rupert Svendsen-Cook in terms of points and British driver Cook finished the 15-lap race ahead of Ellinas. Cook's party was however shortlived as stewards declared Ellinas as the provisional champion after he protested over Cook forcing him off the track on Lap 1 during the final race.
Cook was slapped with a 30-second penalty for pushing Ellinas off the track and as a result of that he was demoted to 12th spot in the race classification. He has also subsequently appealed against the stewards' decision. The shake-up elevated Belgian Sam Dejonghe to the top step of the podium with Ellinas and Dylan Young taking second and third spots respectively.
Earlier in the day, Indian F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan enthralled the packed Sunday crowd as he won the Race 1 of the day with Sam Dejonghe winning Race 2. In the MRF 1600 National Racing Championship category Tarun Reddy passed Vikash Anand on the last lap to take his second win of the weekend with Advait Deodhar in third place. K. Jagan won his first race of the season in the first round of the Indian Motorcycle National Racing Championship ahead Mathana Kumar and Harry Sylvester.
In Race 1, Ellinas had a great start and went into the lead while Svendsen-Cook passed Karthikeyan at first corner. The Safety Car came out on Lap 5 when Raj Bharath stopped on track with a push rod failure. At the restart, Ellinas pulled away with Svendsen-Cook in second and Karthikeyan in hot pursuit of the duo. With three laps to go, Karthikeyan pulled off a stunning manoeuvre over Svendsen-Cook into 'Anand' corner to move into second place. On the penultimate lap, he repeated the same move on Ellinas to move into the lead to a huge roar of the crowd. He crossed the finish line in first place ahead of Ellinas and Svendsen-Cook. Ellinas was given full points and two extra points for fastest lap to cut the gap from 9 points to level on points with one race to go. APRC Champion Gaurav Gill was impressive and was running in 5th place before he retired on the final lap.
Next race saw the MRF 1600 NRC category with Vikash Anand on pole alongside Kartik Tharani. Vikash made the perfect start and held on to the lead ahead of Advait Deodhar and Tharani. Tarun Reddy held on to his 4th position and started to put pressure on Tharani. He got past Tharani on the second lap and then passed Advait on the following lap to move into second place. Vikash continued to lead with Tarun behind unable to get close enough. Tarun made a move on the penultimate lap but Vikash managed to hold him off. On the final lap he made a move again into 'Anand' corner and made it stick moving himself into the lead. Tarun finished ahead of Vikash, who did 7 races this weekend after participating in both the MRF Challenge and MRF 1600 NRC. Advait took the final step on the podium.
In the MRF Challenge decider, Benjamin Anderson started on pole ahead of Dylan Young with the Championship rivals starting in 4th and 5th place respectively. Karthikeyan started in 6th place in the reverse-grid led race. Svendsen-Cook got the better start of the two rivals and was up to 3rd on lap 2 with Ellinas still stuck in 5th place. The Safety Car came out with 8 laps to go after Karthikeyan was hit in to a spin by Harry Tincknell. Karthikeyan recovered to get back on track albeit in last place. Sam Dejonghe took the lead when leader Ben Anderson was given a drive-thru penalty with Svendsen-Cook in second and Ellinas in third. They finished in the same order handing Svendsen-Cook the title ahead of Ellinas. Gill was once again impressively as he finished in 4th place while Vikash Anand fought from 17th on the grid to finish in a highly creditable 7th place.
Narain Karthikeyan commented, "It feels absolutely amazing to win in Chennai again after all these years. It was the crowd that gave me the further push and made this win possible. These guys are really good and it was great fun battling with them. I am very impressed with the cars in the MRF Challenge and thank J Anand and MRF for making this a special weekend for me."
Tarun Reddy was happy to win again and commented, "It was a perfect weekend for me and am excited to be back in the car. Winning on the last lap was not planned but I decided to make a last gasp move on Vikash and it paid off. The season is just starting so look forward to getting a lot more experience this year.
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