British driver Rupert Svendsen-Cook took his second consecutive win as he won Race 1 of Round 2 of the MRF Challenge 2013 at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, Bahrain. Starting third on the grid, Svensen-Cook got a brilliant start to pass both pole-sitter Tio Ellinas and Arthur Pic around the outside into the first corner on lap 1. Svendsen-Cook led from then on but was pushed all the way to the chequered flag with both Pic and Ellinas right on his tail till the chequered flag.
At the start of the race Ellinas and Pic both start well and were side-by-side on the run up to the first corner. As Ellinas and Pic squeezed each other, Svendsen-Cook took the lead by going around the outside of both of them. Pic then got a run on Svendsen-Cook as they approached turn 4 but could not make a move stick and ended up losing out to Ellinas, who overtook him into turn 4. Ellinas and Pic continued to battle as Svendsen-Cook pulled away at the front. Meanwhile, Harry Tincknell started charging through the field after dropping back to 8th place and was soon up to 4th position. The safety car had to come out on lap 2 as Sam Dejonghe was punted into a roll. With the car upside down Marshalls rushed to the car as the driver walked away unhurt.
At the safety car re-start Svendsen-Cook led as Ellinas was busy holding off Pic. Ellinas made a mistake in the last corner of lap 4 which helped Pic jump him into the first corner. Pic set the fastest lap of the race as he started catching Svendsen-Cook. With two laps to go Ellinas joined the fight with the top three being separated by less than a second. Svendsen-Cook managed to hold off both Pic and Ellinas to win the race. Tincknell finished in 4th place ahead of Shinya Michimi and Yudai Jinkawa, who will start on pole position for tomorrow’s reverse-grid race. Brazilian driver Renan Guerra had finished in 5th but received a 30 second penalty.
Race winner Rupert Svendsen-Cook was thrilled to take his second victory in a row. He commented, “It feels absolutely great to win again in the series. This has done wonders for my confidence and my pace is really good. I saw Pic and Ellinas battling and I decided to go around the outside of turn 1. After that I just had to keep them behind and even though they were quick I managed to hold on for the win. Tomorrow will be tougher but I am sure I can get a good result.“
Second place man Arthur Pic commented, “I had a good start in comparison with Tio but not as good as Rupert. Tio and me were side-by-side but he was fair and left me enough room. My first lap was not so good as I dropped back to 3rd place. After the safety car I got past Tio when he made a mistake. I was catching Rupert but made a mistake as well. I am not sure if I could have passed him but would have definitely tried. The pace was really good today so hopefully I can push for the win tomorrow.“
Third place finisher Tio Ellinas was felt he should have finished higher up after securing a double pole yesterday. He commented, “I did not get a good start and lost out to Rupert and Arthur into turn 1. I managed to get past Arthur in turn 4 before the safety car came out. After that I made a mistake on the last corner and Arthur got past me again. I think the top 3 were so similar on pace that we could not overtake without the other one making a mistake. I will have a fresh set of tyres tomorrow so Race 3&4 should be a lot better and I will fight for the win.”
Indian drivers Parth Ghorpade and Raj Bharath finished in 13th & 14th place while Vikash Anand retired at the start with a mechanical problem. Bharath, driving in the series for the first time started 19th and fought his way up to 14th position.
Race 2 of the day was cancelled due the bad light and will take place in the following round.