Kalmthout wins Race 2, Martono secures pole for Race 3

Dutchman Rinus van Kalmthout had finished third in the opening race.

Delighted Dutch: Rinus van Kalmthout with his rewards after the opening day's races on Friday. Photo: V. V. Ramanan

There was delight and despair on the opening day of the Dubai Leg of the MRF Challenge here on Friday.

Teenaged Dutch driver Rinus van Kalmthout won Race 2 with ease to complement his third place in the opening race, while Brazil’s Felipe Drugovich, the victor in the first, had to be content with ninth place in the next, thanks to an electric malfunction at the last corner of the 10th and final lap!

Race 2 saw Kalmthout jump into the lead on lap four at the Dubai Autodrome, an advantage that he built upon steadily to win by more than 11 seconds over France’s Louis Gachot. Gachot’s compatriot Julien Falchero, a race winner at Bahrain, took the trophy for the third place.

The first race saw Drugovich whiz past pole-sitter Indonesia’s Presley Martono right after the lights went out and the 18 drivers handled their Formula 2000 machines adroitly over the 5.39km GP circuit. The chase, barring a small mishap which forced Manuel Maldonado to retire early on, went to script after that. Poland’s Alex Karkosik slipped in between the Brazilian and the Dutch driver when the race ended.

Read: Martono sets the best lap timing in free practice

Martono, thanks to the two best times in the qualifying race, has ensured pole position for the Race 3 to be run on Saturday.

These finishes have already made the race to the championship intriguing with Drugovich on 107 points, just two ahead of Kalmthout. As regards wins, the former is 3-2 ahead of the latter after the 2017 season roared off in Sakhir (Bahrain) in mid-November.

“I feel that luck is with me now and if I keep going like this, I can hope for the big prize in Chennai early next year”, said Kalmthout, hoping to emulate his country’s Formula One hotshot Max Verstappen.

The results (top five)

Race 2: 1. Rinus van Kalmthout (Ned) 19:47.922s, 2. Louis Gachot (Fra) 19:59.040, 3. Julien Falchero (Fra) 19:59.114, 4. Presley Martono (Ina) 19:59.328, 5. Danial Frost (Sgp) 19:59.495.

Race 1: 1. Felipe Drugovich (Bra) 19:44.537, 2. Alex Karkosik (Pol) 19:46.790, 3. van Kalmthout 19:47:372, 4. Falchero 19:51.510, 5. Martono 19:52.035.

(The writer is in Dubai at the invitation of MRF Tyres)