Dubai: Seventeen-year-old Dutch driver Rinus van Kalmthout won the second race at the Dubai Autodrome to close in on championship leader Felipe Drugovich in the MRF Challenge 2017 on Friday.
Drugovich was running in second place, but had an electric problem on the last corner of the final lap and dropped down to ninth. Van Kalmthout won ahead of Louis Gachot and Julien Falchero. Gachot, son of former Formula 1 driver Bertrand, is currently a resident of Dubai studying at the American University of Dubai (AUD). Drugovich has earlier won Race One ahead of Alex Karkosik and van Kalmthout. Drugovich has a two-point lead over van Kalmthout.
Qualifying got the engines roaring to start the day and it was a two-way battle between Martono and Drugovich, who set a time of 1:55.867 with three minutes to go on the clock. Martono struck back and set a 1:55.861 to go 0.006 seconds faster, further improving his time to confirm his pole position. Karkosik qualified in third ahead of van Kalmthout and Julien Falchero.
Martono continued his run of bad starts as he got bogged down allowing the top guys to go past him. Drugovich had the perfect start and led comfortably into the first corner. Karkosik slotted into second ahead of van Kalmthout and Falchero. Martono dropped down to sixth, but passed Harri Jones by the end of the first lap.
Drugovich was unchallenged as he coasted to his third win of the season. Van Kalmthout set the fastest lap of the race and closed in on Karkosik but was unable to pass the Polish driver and had to settle for third place. Falchero finished ahead of Martono, with Gachot overtaking Jones to finish in sixth.
In the reverse grid based Race Two, Gachot led from start but had a fast starting van Kalmthout right behind him. Van Kalmthout moved into second from fourth and wasted no time hunting down Gachot. He passed the French teen into turn 12 on the third lap and pulled away at the front. Drugovich impressed the most starting from sixth on the grid. He first passed Karkosik and Martono on the fourth lap, before getting past Falchero on the sixth. He soon passed Gachot as well but race leader van Kalmthout was too far ahead to catch.
The Dutch driver crossed the finish line in first place but there was drama behind him. Drugovich slowed as he entered the last corner, slowing down a stream of cars all battling to finish on the podium. Gachot managed to hold on to second, finishing 0.074secs ahead of Falchero. Martono, who had another tough start, finished in fourth ahead of Danial Frost and Jones even as Drugovich limped across the line in ninth.
The third and fourth race will take place on Saturday. Further updates on www.mrfracing.in.