Martono sets the best lap timing in free practice

Dutchman Rinus van Kalmthout had bettered the Indonesian Presley Martono in the first free practice.

Presley Martono is focussed on the qualifying sessions. - Special Arrangement

Presley Martono sped his way around the Dubai Autodrome track to set the best lap timing over two free practice sessions of the Dubai Leg of MRF Challenge 2017 here on Thursday.

Read: MRF Challenge comes to Dubai

The Indonesian, second best to the Netherlands’ Rinus van Kalmthout in first session, and the only driver to breach the 1 minute 57 seconds mark on a day ideal for racing, did not attach much importance to the timing.

“What matters more is how I drive in the qualifying. I am enjoying the track as it has more banking corners when compared to the one at Sakhir,” said the 17-year-old.

Martono, second in two races and a third in another at the series-opener, was of the opinion that the MRF ZLO tyres were more consistent than the previous season and gripped well.

van Kalmthout, bested by Martono in the afternoon, was satisfied with his display on the 5.39km circuit and hoped to do an encore of Sakhir, where he took pole positions in Race 1 and Race 3.

“I can be a bit more smooth and have a little more luck,” said the Dutch youngster, who won the third race in Bahrain, with a chuckle when asked on his plans to acquit himself better here following a retirement and a fifth place in the first two races in Bahrain.

Championship leader Felipe Drugovich finished outside the top five in the second session after tagging behind the Indonesian and the Dutch driver in the first. Alex Karkosik of Poland drove well to finish in the top five in both sessions.

Given the quality of driving from the 18 racers, most of them getting a feel of the circuit for the first time, some heady action can be expected come Friday.

Best lap timings (top five)

Free Practice 2: 1. Presley Martono (Ina) 1:56.996s, 2. Rinus van Kalmthout (Ned) 1:57.202, 3. Alex Karkosik (Pol) 1:57.245, 4. Julien Falchero (Fra) 1:57.257, 5. Danial Froast (Sgp) 1:57.464.

Free Practice 1: 1. van Kalmthout 1:57.046s, 2. Martono 1:57.101, 3. Felipe Drugovich (Bra) 1:57.290, 4. Falchero 1:57.406, 5. Karkosik 1:57.481

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