Home Featured Roundup: Daly and King win MRF Challenge races at Indian GP

Roundup: Daly and King win MRF Challenge races at Indian GP

by Valentin Khorounzhiy

Photo: Conor Daly

GP3 and Formula Renault race winners triumph in an international field in front of the F1 teams in New Delhi…

MRF Challenge

The opening round of the newly-established MRF Challenge was probably the highlight of the weekend in terms of junior series racing. The two races at Buddh International, which supported the F1 Grand Prix at the same track, featured some pretty major international names and produced noteworthy racing.

One of the major international names was Jordan King who took pole for both races of the weekend having won the MRF event 12 months ago, albeit in different machinery. Alongside him for race one lined up Conor Daly, and the American took the lead of the race from the very start and never let go. King, as such, was forced to settle with second, while, in third, newly-crowned F2 champion Luciano Bacheta completed the podium. The fight for fourth also featured some familiar faces as Alice Powell narrowly beat Jon Lancaster to that.

For race two, King was partnered with Lancaster on the front row and, yet again, he lost the lead off the start. However, he regained the lead shortly afterwards and kept it all the way until the end of the race as Lancaster crashed out in pursuit. That allowed Bacheta to inherit second as Daly completed the podium. Powell was, once again, fourth ahead of two more British drivers, Intersteps’ Matt Mason and Formula Two’s Hector Hurst.

King leads the standings after the first round with 48 points while Daly and Bacheta are right behind with 44 and 39 respectively, although it remains to be seen which if any of the top drivers are going to continue racing in the series. The next round takes place at the same track on 1-2 December.

JK Racing Asia Series

The JK Racing Asia Series was also in India as support of the F1 Grand Prix with a round of two races. Nabil Jeffri entered the weeknd with a massive lead but Aston Hare, his closest rival, was back after an injury and shaping up to commence the late-season chase of the leader.

Neither of them, however, lined up on pole for race one as it was Afiq Ikhwan, another possible title contender, who managed the feat. Jeffri lined up alongside him and pressured him for the entire race but Ikhwan crossed the finish line first, taking his third consecutive victory of the season. Completing the podium was guest driver Aditya Patel who finally made the podium in his fifth race in the series. Another guest driver, Akhil Khushlani, was fourth ahead of Hare, who got the points for third.

Jeffri started the second race from pole and led for six laps but wasn’t to win it as he was penalised for a jump-start, relegating him down the order to finish eighth in the end. Hare and Patel fought it out for the victory and it was the South African who clinched his fourth one of the season. Danial Hidzir completed the podium with Ikhwan and Australian Aidan Wright right behind.

Ahead of the final four-race event at the same circuit on December 1-2 which will decide the championship, Jeffri is still in the lead. Hare is a massive 33 points behind the leader with Ikhwan a further 20 adrift, but both of them could still mathematically fight for it.

French F4

The 2012 season of the French F4 Championship concluded with two races at Paul Ricard. Alex Baron entered into the final round as the champion, having claimed his title a round earlier and looking to add some more race wins to his stunning 2012 campaign.

Practice featured somewhat of a famous name in the form of Norman Nato, who was series vice-champion in 2010. Sadly, it seems like he wasn’t planning to race and only took part in one session, which he easily dominated, clearing the field by over a second.

Qualifying was somewhat of a surprise as Baron lost out on pole for one of the races to Swiss youngster Darius Oskoui. Lining up second for race one, Baron ended up retiring on lap one, allowing Oskoui to run away with his maiden win. With the usual frontrunners not having the best of days, the podium wasn’t exactly a usual one – Joffrey de Narda clinched his maiden podium, finishing in second, while Nicolas Jamin added another third place to his season.

The race two was a bit more predictable as Baron scored yet another lights-to-flag victory, finishing an incredible season on a high note. Jamin finished second while Simon Gachet completed the podium.

At the end of it all, taking nine wins in 14 races, Baron is the dominant champion, with an accumulated 278 points to his name. Despite the low-key weekend, Simon Tirman ended up second with 182 points. With four finishes in second and no wins, Gachet took third in the championship, leading the rest of the pack with 148 points.

F3 Cup

The club-level,? MSV F3 Cup series usually doesn’t get coverage here at PaddockScout, but this time we had to make an exception. The final round of the season, which consisted of two races at Snetterton, featured unexpectedly big names for the series. In order to be eligible for the upcoming Macau Grand Prix, Antonio Felix da Costa and Kevin Korjus made an appearance and, predictably, overshadowed the title fight.

Felix da Costa, being run by Carlin and behind the wheel of Jazeman Jaafar’s F308 chassis from his 2011 British F3 campaign, secured pole for the opening race by a whopping nine seconds and stormed to a dominant victory in both races. Meanwhile Korjus, racing Double R’s National Class F308 used this year by Duvashen Padayachee, qualified in third. In race one he took second with ease, far behind Felix da Costa but easily ahead of everyone else, and with Macau eligibility achieved he did not take part in the second race.

The round also saw series regular 23-year-old Chris Dittmann claim the F3 Cup title, which grants him a Formula Two test.

PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend: Jordan King – had an advantage in the track knowledge department, but that hardly diminishes the quality of his performance. Taking two poles against much more experienced opposition and keeping his cool on his way to victory in the second one is worth quite a lot. Definitely an eye-catching weekend.

Next weekend: The F3 Open season concludes at Barcelona, while Formula Pilota China moves onto Sepang.