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201427 Oct


Raj Bharat passes Mathias Lauda


Raj Bharath pulled off two stunning overtaking moves enroute to winning his first race in the MRF Challenge 2014 at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar. Raj finished ahead of Kyle Mitchell and Toby Sowery in Race 3 to make it two consecutive wins for Indian drivers after Tarun Reddy won Race 2 the day before.


Raj almost made it two wins in a day but just missed out by 0.212 seconds to Toby Sowery in Race 4. Fans were treated to great racing under the floodlights with both races providing plenty of overtaking and close racing in what is probably the closest MRF Challenge grid.


The main feature race started with Toby on pole position with Raj alongside him. Raj had a great start and went into the lead with Toby falling to 3rd position behind Ryan Cullen. Cullen passed Raj at the end of the first lap to take the lead with Kyle Mitchell also squeezing through. Toby ran wide and slipped back to 6th position. Raj spent the next few laps trying to find a way past Kyle as Cullen failed to take advantage of his lead. Raj pulled off a great move to get past Kyle and within a lap he was right behind Cullen. Raj overtook Cullen on the next lap to take the lead of the race.


Behind him the battle continued when Kyle got past Cullen and in to 2nd place. Toby also found his way past Cullen and started challenging Kyle for 2nd place. Raj crossed the finish line to take the win with Kyle managing to hold off Toby to take 2nd place. Cullen finished in 4th position with Pedro Cardoso in 5th position. Mathias Lauda took 6th place to take reverse grid pole for the 4th and final race of the weekend.


Race 2 started with pole sitter Mathias Lauda going into the lead ahead of Ryan Cullen. Pedro Cardoso slotted into 3rd position with Tarun Reddy jumping from 7th to 4th after the 1st lap. Tarun passed Pedro and started catching the top 2 drivers. On lap 4 the top 7 drivers were separated by just over a second with nothing to choose from them. Toby and Raj, who had poor starts, started carving through the field and on lap 8 were in 3rd and 4th positions.


Toby quickly passed Cullen and took the lead from Lauda on lap 10. Raj took a little longer to pass both the drivers and set off to catch Toby, who had a 3 second lead with 3 laps to go.  Lauda, meanwhile, made a mistake and went off track which dropped him out of the top 6. Raj became the only driver to go under the 2 minutes lap time as he set two fastest laps and reeled in Toby. However he ran out of laps as he crossed the finish line in 2nd place, 0.212 seconds behind Toby. Cullen held on to take the final step on the podium with Pedro and Tarun crossing the line side-by-side, with Pedro ahead by 0.012 seconds to cap off a brilliant weekend of racing for the MRF Challenge 2014.


Raj Bharath, who also won the Mercedes Young Star Driver program earlier this year was ecstatic after scoring the most points of the day. He commented, “It was an amazing day today, after all the issues we had yesterday. Starting on the front row, the start wasn't the best and I fell back to fourth. All the drivers I ended up fighting with were far more experienced - so it was an incredibly close and tough dice and I'm really happy to have come out on top.”


“In the second race starting sixth I was hoping to get on the podium and the first few laps was a bit chaotic obviously. My aim was to just stay out of trouble because I knew the pace was there and then push from there on. Last two laps I really caught up to Toby but just fell short at the line. It was a bit disappointing at that point to be honest but getting the fastest lap of the weekend along the way made up for it somewhat.”


Race 4 winner Toby Sowery, who was the only driver to finish on the podium in all 4 races commented, “Another great race and really happy to end the weekend as the Championship leader. I had a poor start again so had to work through the field to get on the top step of the podium. It was a great battle with Raj as he was really quick at the end but it was a nice way to end such a great weekend for me.”


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