Abu Dhabi: Nobuharu Matsushita continued his dominance as he added another win in Race Three of the first round in the MRF Challenge at the Yas Marina circuit on Saturday.
The GP 2 driver now heads into the second round in the lead with 80 points, ahead of Pietro Fitttipaldi (68) and Tatiana Calderon (61). Tarun Reddy is the highest ranked Indian with 47 points on sixth.
Fitttipaldi stormed to the top spot in the Race four to make his case as a title contender. But the star of the day was Calderon, who twice pulled off a swift overtake on Reddy in the final stretch of the last lap to take the third and second spot in Race Three and Four respectively.
On a day when conditions were tougher with the added effect of humidity, Matsushita held on to his lead from pole to finish in Race Three, with the bulk of the action coming from Fittipaldi's attempt to overtake Jake Dennis for the second spot while trying to starve off Calderon and Reddy.
But Fittipaldi's race did not have a happy ending as Calderon, in an exhibition of her dazzling skill and guts, stormed to the last podium spot while Reddy finished fourth. Despite the setback, Fittipaldi took the top spot in the podium in the final race of the weekend, overtaking pole-sitter Nikita Troitckii and holding fort till the end of the race.
The 22-year-old Mexican Calderon whipped up the excitement again as she battled Reddy through most of the race before edging out the Indian 50 meters from the finish to take the second spot, finishing 0.013 seconds ahead. Following her exploits, Calderon said: “I have not had this much fun racing in a very long time. Everyone is so closely matched. I am third in the championship and very excited for the upcoming races.” Indian drivers Arjun Narendran and Karthik Tarani failed to bag any points despite their best efforts.