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Category: MRF Challenge

Laura TillettAspiring professional racing driver Laura Tillett is delighted to confirm she will fly the flag for the UK for the remainder of the 2013/2014 MRF Challenge season, having secured vital sponsorship off the back of a strong debut in the FIA-sanctioned single-seater category in India just over a week ago.

Having been on the car racing sidelines for 12 months since concluding her maiden season in ‘slicks and wings’ in the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault Championship, the 22-year-old from West Malling is thrilled to be back in action and determined to shine over the course of the MRF season.

“I’m very excited to be competing in the MRF championship and to be able to visit the fantastic circuits which are on the calendar”, said Laura, “I feel very privileged to be able to race in such a great class, I wasn’t expecting anything like this to happen to my racing career this year. I am really grateful to my sponsors for the opportunity, we’re aiming to make good progress.”

Although the chance to debut in the opening event of the MRF Challenge at Buddh International Circuit, which ran as support to the FIA Formula One World Championship’s Indian Grand Prix on 26th/27th October, came at the eleventh hour, Laura grasped the chance with both hands.

Despite gearbox issues with her Renault-powered Dallara, which impacted her pace during practice, qualifying and the first race, the Kent starlet secured a 13th place finish in the second encounter even though she had to serve a drive-through penalty after slightly rolling on the grid at the start. Off the track, her profile was boosted after being interviewed live on the Sky Sports F1 Channel.

As well as support from new sponsor Kinesio, Laura is backed by TILLETT Racing Seats, ET Fashions, Puma Motorsport and Point Racing. She is also an ambassador for Caterham Motorsport, with links to the Caterham F1 Team.

Her next outing in the MRF Challenge will come at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir four weeks from now, on Friday, 29th November, and Saturday, 30th November, where rounds three and four of the new season will take place as support to the FIA World Endurance Championship.

From there the MRF Challenge will return to Bahrain on Friday, 20th December, and Saturday, 21st December, for rounds five and six with the season finale scheduled for 15th/16th February next year in Chennai, India.

“I am really looking forward to racing at Bahrain”, added Laura, “I watched the Bahrain F1 race on TV last year and thought it would be a great place to drive – I never expected I would be driving it a year later! After racing at Buddh [in India] and seeing what a great track that was, I can’t wait to get back on track as soon as possible in Bahrain.

“Racing on the same circuit, on the same weekend, as Formula One in India was the best moment of my racing career. There was a great atmosphere, it really focused my commitment and I wanted to achieve more than ever. I would love to be able to race at that level again and hopefully racing in MRF will open the door for me to do it again next year.”

Prior to making her car racing debut last year in Protyre Formula Renault, Laura competed at the highest level in karts in the CIK-FIA World Super KF Karting Championship. In 2009, she made history by becoming the first female to ever race in the premier class.

Alice PowellCotswold racer, Alice Powell, suffered huge disappointment at the Madras Circuit in Chennai, India, this weekend. She entered the weekend 3rd in the championship, but clutch problems and a spin lead to her finishing 5th in the final MRF Championship standings.

Alice qualified 5th for the first race of the weekend, but on the start of the warm up lap, the clutch started to slip, “I could feel it slip when I pulled away on the green flag lap. When I pulled up to my grid box for the start of the race, the clutch was not engaging properly. When the lights came on, I went full revs and the car edged forward. I did manage to stop before the lights went out, but it was too late, I had already moved”. This was seen as a jump start by the stewards so Alice had to take a drive through penalty. She came out in last place (15th), but managed to work her way back up to 12th.

For the first race on Sunday, Alice started in 6th place, and she chose to stay in that position as it would mean she would start pole for the final race, as the final race grid was top six reverse.

So, for the final race of the MRF Series, Alice started on pole position. She got an excellent start, leading into the first few corners. However, on the run down to turn 4, Alice was forced to defend onto the dusty side of the track. As the BRDC Rising Star, down changed gear, the rear tyres locked aggressively, sending Alice into a spin. She had to wait until all the cars had passed, to get back onto the track. Powell worked her way back to P10, setting the third fastest lap of the race, “I am so disappointed! My start was excellent, but Sam (Dejonghe) got in my tow down the straight to turn 4. I pulled to the left to defend, but the track is very dusty. The down changed snatched the rear, but because I was on the dust I could not catch it. We had such great pace, and I know it would have been a win and that would have meant 3rd in the Championship. It is painful knowing victory was there, but I have to move on now, learn and focus on raising sponsorship for this coming season.”

Alice has nothing confirmed yet for 2013, as she is still continuing to raise sponsorship.

MRF ChallengeThe true test of man and machine is in his pursuit of excellence. The MRF Challenge 2012 will put a spring in the step of young racing drivers across the globe. On 24th August 2012, the residents of Chennai witnessed the birth of a motorsport series like no other. India finally has its chance to shine in the International motorsport arena. The launch of this spectacular series was done by none other than Formula 1 driver, “The Fastest Indian in the World” and MRF Racing’s Brand Ambassador, Narain Karthikeyan, as he drove this awesome racing machine in front of an enthralled audience of over 10,000 fans assembled at Express Avenue Mall in Chennai, India.

The MRF Challenge 2012 brought the sounds and smells of the racing experience to the door step of the Chennai public. After a successful series last year with the MRF Formula Ford 1600cars, which also included a support race to the inaugural Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix, MRF has decided to up the ante in 2012. The upcoming series “THE MRF CHALLENGE 2012” will showcase high speed, cutting-edge race-car technology combined with Indian manufacturing excellence.

India has always had its share of motorsport fans, and this has been validated by the tremendous response to the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix in 2011. It is estimated that approximately 40 million Indians watched the live coverage of the race coupled with an in-stadia presence of over one hundred thousand spectators. Building on this growing interest, MRF Limited, the largest tyre manufacturer in India and a USD 2.5 billion company, is all set to host The MRF Challenge 2012 racing series this year. The MRF Challenge 2012 series will consist of four rounds (and a total of ten races), the first two rounds at Buddh International Circuit, and the final two at the MMRT Circuit in Chennai, one of the oldest circuits in the country.

MRF has a rich legacy in the motor sports arena – a legacy built over twenty years of its association with the sport. The company’s focus has been in circuit racing with single-seaters, as well as in Rallying, both on the domestic front and in the Asia Zone and Asia Pacific Championships. On the international rallying front, Team MRF has won the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship three times, in 2003, 2005 and 2010. MRF also sponsors the Super Cross Championships and has had a long-standing association with karting community in India, having developed the first FIA-CIK approved karting tyres in India

This year MRF has commissioned Jayem Automotives Ltd in Coimbatore to build the ‘MRF FORMULA 2000’car. This car has been built under technical collaboration with Automobili Dallara of Italy, who is the world’s largest manufacturer of bespoke single-seater racing cars and is also considered the best in the business. It is the company that helped design, amongst other elite machinery, the Bugatti Veyron. They also build all of the GP2, GP3 and Indycars, as well as class dominating Formula 3 cars. Dallara has given the car a modern and dynamic design with all the very latest in cutting-edge technology which is available to them, while Renault-Sport has designed and manufactured its 210 BHP 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine. This car will be a carbon fibre marvel with a six-speed Hewland sequential gearbox, making it an ultra-safe and reliable package. The car will boast performance equal to current international Formula 3 machinery.

The tyres have been specifically designed from the ground up for high-speed circuit racing. MRFs R&D Engineers have worked tirelessly to satisfy all the needs of the drivers. Straight-line speed and stability, as well as high-speed cornering grip have been optimized into the design of the tyres, in addition to a very high level of safety. For the purists and petrol heads who dissect every details of the car, it would interest them to know the front tyre size is 200 x 540-R13, and the rear size is 240 x 570-R13. These sizes are available in both dry and wet constructions –again made specifically for this series. The wheel size is 8Jx13, and the car will use OZ racing alloy rims.

MRF has also finalised the calendar for the series – Round One will be on the 27th and 28th of October as a support race for the Formula One Indian Grand Prix. Round Two will be held on the 1st and 2nd of December 2012 as a support race for the FIA GT1 Championship. The final two rounds will be held in Chennai on the 1st to 3rd of February & 8th to 10th of February 2013.

MRF Racing Brand Ambassador Narain Karthikeyan. “When MRF launched the Formula 1600 in 2010, I was very excited and justifiably felt that it was a huge step forward in domestic racing. Little did I know, or expect, that a very short 2 years later, they would move the bar so far ahead. The new MRF Formula 2000 cars are the absolute cutting edge in international racing technology. The platform it will provide to young racing drivers from all over the world will make it a unique series internationally. The new MRF slick racing tyres which are being developed specifically for the dynamic characteristics of this car are also shaping up really well. My first impressions of the car and tyres were very positive when I drove it for the first time a few days ago.”