The 2016 season of the MRF Challenge will kick off this weekend with the first round scheduled to be held at the Bahrain International Circuit alongside the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The FIA sanctioned series will feature four rounds with 14 races scheduled across Bahrain, Dubai, New Delhi and Chennai. This will also mark the return to the Buddh International Circuit after a three-year gap.
"The MRF Challenge has been a great opportunity for young drivers to establish themselves, and give drivers the best chance to hone their skills on some of the world’s leading circuits”, commented Arun Mammen, Managing Director, MRF Tyres.
This year’s grid will have a promising line-up headed by the returning Harrison Newey, son of legendary F1 designer Adrian Newey, and Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher. Joining them will be German F4 Champion Joey Mawson, 2015 Italian F4 Champion and F3 race winner Ralf Aron, Japanese F3 Champion Yoshiaki Katayama and Manuel Maldonado, cousin of former F1 race winner Pastor Maldonado. 17-year old French F4 runner up Gilles Magnus will also join the championship.
India’s first ever Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan, who has played a key role in developing the car, was once again quick to praise MRF and the Challenge in its fifth season. “I have been working closely with MRF for many years and it is great to see their commitment for the sport only increase season by season. It’s a fantastic package for young drivers to really learn how a high-grip, high-downforce single-seater works and is surely unmatched in terms of the value and track time it offers for experienced drivers as well”, said Narain.
“A lot of development has been undertaken for the 2016 MRF Challenge with improved tyres and aero package that has made the car significantly quicker and better to drive”, he added.
In its fifth year, the MRF Challenge will feature 17 MRF Formula 2000 race cars, which have been built by Coimbatore-based JA Motorsport. The F3 style car has been built in technical collaboration with Dallara, and is considered to be the fastest of its kind in Asia. The new car is powered by a two-litre, 230 bhp Mountune Duratec engine mated to a Hewland six-speed sequential gearbox. It also features advanced aerodynamics with underbody diffuser and runs on bespoke MRF ZLO rubber.
"The great thing about this championship is that we are constantly trying to improve the car, which is a testament to the commitment from MRF Tyres to make this series one of the biggest in Asia. The new car is faster, more powerful and very exciting to race. This year has been very intense as the MRF Challenge car will see its greatest evolution since the start of the championship 5 years ago’”, said J Anand, MD, JA Motorsports.