What is it?
Let’s face it, India hasn’t had the sort of single-seater race car series that can adequately prepare budding young drivers for an international racing career. Looks like MRF spotted this and decided to make amends. So while its international rallying team is flourishing, and while the F1600 single seater that ran for two seasons is on its way out, it has found more than an adequate replacement. Presenting the new MRF Challenge 2012.
Now, the cars that are a part of the series are proper race cars with the chassis from Italian chassis manufacturer Dallara (which also provides chassis for the likes of the Formula 3 championship, IndyCar, Indy Lights, the GP2 series and more). Powering the cars are 2.0-litre Renault engines that are mated to 6-speed sequential gearboxes from Hewland. The rest of the car is built by Coimbatore-based Jayem Automotive, run by legendary tuner J Anand. Tyres are, of course, supplied by MRF.
The MRF Challenge 2012 is spread across four rounds. The opening round will be held as a support race to the 2012 Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit, between October 26 and 28. Round two will also be held at BIC later this year, running as a support race to the FIA GT1 Championship between November 30 and December 2. Each of these rounds will feature two races. The cars will then come to the Madras Motor Racing Track, Sriperumbudur, for the final two rounds (three races each) to be held on the first two weekends in February 2013.
While no official announcement has been made about the drivers yet, MRF Tyres has sent contracts out to selected racers and a grid of 25 cars with both Indian and international racers is expected. No surprises there, given the sort of prize money that is at stake — Rs 30 lakh for the championship winner, while the drivers who finish second and third in the title race get Rs 20 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, respectively.