Australian racing driver Dylan Young had his best round of the 2015 MRF Challenge Championship at the Dubai Autodrome from December 17-19. Young managed to secure a strong sixth-placed finish in Race 2 of the weekend in a highly competitive international field of 16 drivers.
As the sole Australian on the grid, Young also backed up his sixth place with other points finishes, including a seventh place in Race 4 and a ninth place in the opening race of the round.
It was the first time almost all of the MRF Challenge drivers had visited the 5.39-kilometre Dubai Autodrome circuit and its fast flowing nature with banked corners quickly made its mark with many of the drivers who declared it their favourite track of the Championship so far.
Young was strong during both practice sessions, finishing just 0.5s away from second place on the highly competitive timesheets over a 2-minute long lap.
In Race 1, Dylan lost places at the start through Turn 1 and 2 and had to spend the race regaining places, ultimately finishing in the points in ninth place after coming out on top in a tight battle with tenth-placed finisher Giuliano Alesi, the son of former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi.
In Race 2 Young got a much stronger start before the red flags were brought out due to a heavy accident at the rear of the field, forcing the race to be restarted. In a shortened race, Young finished in sixth place, just shy of current championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi.
Young’s continual rise up the grid in each race was halted in Race 3, however, when he hit the wall heavily on Lap 3. The cause of the accident is presumed to be from a dusty exit kerb or more likely a suspected punctured tyre.
The crash resulted in Dylan being sent to the medical centre with bruising and numbness to both knees but despite some pain, he was declared fit to race in the final race of the round and the JA Motorsport & MRF team did an outstanding job to prepare a spare car in time for the last race given the substantial damage to Dylan’s #3 car.
Impressively, in a new car and having to start from the back of the grid after the accident, Young fought his way up to seventh place in Race 4 to solidify a strong weekend of consistent points finishes.
“I feel I’m starting to get back up to speed quicker and [getting] quicker with each round after having so many months out of the seat this year. My engineer handed me a really well balanced car but the grid is so competitive,” he reflected afterwards.
“We are chipping away at that top five against the really strong drivers. It was unfortunate to have that accident in Race 3 as given the position I was in at the time I hit the wall and ultimately looking at the lap times, I was targeting a sixth-placed finish in that race like the previous race – which would have given me pole position in the reverse grid race in the afternoon. But it wasn’t to be.
“I can’t thank my engineer and mechanics at JA Motorsport and MRF enough for working their asses off to get me out for the last race and it was nice to climb right up the field. Now I can enjoy the break over Christmas and really get ready to take another step again for the final four races in India next month. Once again I also want to thank all my sponsors and it was great to finish the 2015 calendar year on a strong note!”
Young’s solid weekend vaults him to equal twelfth overall in the 2015-16 MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Championship standings.
The series heads to the final round for races 11-14 on January 29-31 2016 at the MMRT Circuit in Chennai, India.
Image via MRF / Aditya Bedre