Abu Dhabi: Nobuharu Matsushita led from start to finish as he dominated proceedings in Race One of the MRF Challenge 2015 held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Pietro Fittipaldi came in second following a close battle with Jake Dennis, who took the last spot in the podium.
On a sizzling hot day, Matsushita was in his element as competitors found it hard to match the Japanese, who tore ahead right from the start, for sheer pace. Having already established a comfortable lead by the fourth lap, a collision between Laura Tillett and Karthik Tharani, which forced both the drivers retire, saw the safety car come out.
But despite the break in his momentum, the GP2 driver barely missed a step as he continued to dominate, winning the race by coming in over four seconds quicker than Fittipaldi. “I did my first lap in the car this morning and it took me some time to adapt. In the race the car was really good. I managed to pull away and hold on to the lead. I am enjoying driving here as it is always giving me more track time ahead of the GP2 race next month. The field is competitive and it's going to be really close all weekend,” said the Japanese.
With the top spot already decided early on, the bulk of the battle was fought between the next five drivers as Fittipaldi had to close off Dennis several times to hang on to the second spot including an impressive show at the last corner of the race.
“This was a great result and nice way to start the championship. I had a good start and after that it was just a matter of managing the pace. I made a mistake on the final corner of the last lap and Jake closed in but I am happy to finish in 2nd place,” said Fittipaldi. Tarun Reddy was the top Indian driver as he came in sixth, despite putting a strong fight against fifth placed Tatiana Calderon....