Home MRF Challenge Nobuharu Matsushita dominates opening MRF Challenge race

Nobuharu Matsushita dominates opening MRF Challenge race

by Peter Allen
Nobuharu Matsushita

Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service

Honda-backed GP2 ace Nobuharu Matsushita scored a commanding victory in the opening race of the MRF Challenge at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.

After beating Formula 3 frontrunner Jake Dennis to pole position by nearly four tenths of a second, Matsushita quickly opened up a five-second lead at the start of the race as Pietro Fittipaldi snatched second from Dennis.

The Japanese driver’s gap was eliminated by the appearance of a safety car to recover the car of Laura Tillett, but he pulled a 4.4-second advantage over Fittipaldi again before the finish.

Fittipaldi held off his fellow F3 racer Dennis by three tenths of a second at the finish line to take second.

Russian Nikita Troitskiy took fourth after repassing Tatiana Calderon, while Tarun Reddy?climbed from ninth to sixth early on.

Ex-GP3 driver Sebastian Balthasar beat Sean Walkinshaw to seventh, while Alice Powell won a race-long scrap with Harrison Newey over ninth.

Single-seater debutant Max Fewtrell fell to the back of the 17-car pack on the opening lap but recovered to 11th, getting ahead of Nerses Isaakyan and Dylan Young on the final lap as the latter was eliminated.

Race results
Pos Driver Gap
1 Nobuharu Matsushita 10 laps
2 Pietro Fittipaldi +4.453
3 Jake Dennis +4.760
4 Nikita Troitskiy +8.672
5 Tatiana Calderon +8.844
6 Tarun Reddy +12.021
7 Sebastian Balthasar +13.007
8 Sean Walkinshaw +13.640
9 Alice Powell +16.416
10 Harrison Newey +16.530
11 Max Fewtrell +24.351
12 Nerses Isaakyan +27.324
13 Matt Draper +31.676
14 Arjun Narendran +40.296
15 Dylan Young +9 laps
16 Karthhik Tarani +3 laps
17 Laura Tillet +2 laps