At the MRF Challenge 2015, Alessio Picariello topped both the practice sessions at the Dubai Autodrome, ahead of round three. Current championship leader, Pietro Fittipaldi, was second fastest by a small margin, while his rivals Tatiana Calderon and Nikita Troitckii finished third and fourth.
At FP1, all the drivers spent a couple of laps getting used to the track, while Picariello wasted no time in setting the fastest lap time, which only got better by the end of the session. None of the other drivers could beat the 2:00.366s that Picariello had set, although Fittipaldi did manage to finish 0.556 seconds behind him. Rounding up the top five at FP1 were Nikita Troitskiy, Tatiana Calderon and Giuliano Alesi. Tarun Reddy, from India, managed to finish the session at seventh.
Picariello managed a faster time during FP2 with 2:00.337s on the clock. Fittipaldi, managed to finish his session just 0.062 seconds slower than the Picariello, while Tatiana Calderon and Nikita Troitskiy swapped positions to finish third and fourth respectively. Tarun Reddy however, only managed to come in tenth at FP2.
"I felt really comfortable with the track straight away and really enjoy driving here. The car feels good like it was in Bahrain. The competition looks closer here so qualifying tomorrow will be important. Overall I am confident for qualifying and the race," said Alessio Picariello.
The third round of the MRF Challenge will host four races - two on Friday and two on Saturday.
|December 17, 2015: Alessio Picariello continued his domination of the MRF Challenge 2015 season by topping both free practice sessions in Round 3 of the MRF Challenge 2015 at the Dubai Autodrome. Championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi came close in FP2 but missed out by 0.062secs on his final lap. His championship rivals Tatiana Calderon and Nikita Troitckii finished in 3rd & 4th places respectively with Giuliano Alesi in an impressive 5th on his first ever outing in the MRF F2000. The drivers spent FP1 familiarising themselves on a track where they had never raced before. Picariello wasted no time and was immediately the fastest man on track with a 2:01.663 on only his third lap. As the session went on he went faster and finally finished with a time of 2:00.366. After the initial runs, the other drivers started to get their quick laps in but no one managed to dethrone the Belgian from the top slot in the 45-minute session. Fittipaldi went second, albeit 0.556secs behind the Belgian driver. Russian Nikita Troitskiy ended third while Tatiana Calderon was fourth and newcomer Giuliano Alesi, on pace straightaway, rounding the top five. Young British driver Max Fewtrell was sixth with Indian driver Tarun Reddy in seventh and Sean Walkinshaw in eighth. The top 10 was covered by Australian Dylan Young in ninth and Harrison Newey tenth. In FP2 the Belgian clocked a time of 2m00.337s, which was only 0.062s quicker than Fittipaldi's best lap to yet again sweep the practice sessions. Championship contenders Tatiana Calderon and Nikita Troitskiy finished third and fourth, the Colombian edging the Russian on her last lap after the chequered flag was waved. Jean Alesi's son Giuliano continued his fine run, finishing fifth, while Sean Walkinshaw was sixth, the last driver within the second of the leader. Walkinshaw was followed by fellow Brits Max Fewtrell and Harrison Newey. Australian Dylan Young finished ninth and Indian Tarun Reddy rounded off the top 10. Alessio Picariello was pleased after another perfect start to the weekend. He commented, "I felt really comfortable with the track straight away and really enjoy driving here. The car feels good like it was in Bahrain. The competition looks closer here so qualifying tomorrow will be important. Overall I am confident for qualifying and the race tomorrow." Championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi finished the session in 2nd place. He commented, "I am happy to be a lot closer to Alessio in the second session as he was really quick in the morning. We made changes to the car for the second session and it worked well. Tomorrow will be interesting and I hope to qualify in a good position and then challenge for the race win." India's first F1 driver and MRF brand ambassador Narain Karthikeyan was also be present in Dubai to witness all the action from the Dubai Autodrome. Karthikeyan was not alone as he was joined by legendary F1 designer Adrian Newey, who was busy watching his son Harrison in action, and former F1 race winner Jean Alesi. Jean Alesi was helping his son who is participating this weekend. His input seems to have paid off with his son Giuliano going 5th fastest in both sessions. The Dubai Autodrome is a 5.39km circuit with a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners. There will be 4 races this weekend with 2 races on Friday and 2 on Saturday. Schedule: December 17, Thursday: Free Practice 1 & 2 December 18, Friday: Qualifying (9am), Race 1 (13:15), Race 2 (15:40) December 19, Saturday: Race 3 (10:10), Race 4 (13:15) MRF Challenge 2015 Calendar: Round 1: October 29-31, 2015, Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit Round 2: November 18-20, 2015, Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuit (World Endurance Championship Support Race) Round 3: December 17-19, 2015, Dubai, Dubai Autodrome Round 4: January 29-31, 2015, Chennai, Madras Motor Race Track MRF Challenge 2015 FP1: 1. Alessio Picariello 2. Pietro Fittipaldi 3. Nikita Troitckii 4. Tatiana Calderon 5. Giuliano Alesi MRF Challenge 2015 FP2: 1. Alessio Picariello 2. Pietro Fittipaldi 3. Tatiana Calderon 4. Nikita Troitckii 5. Giuliano Alesi|