Harrison Newey enjoyed a successful completion of his MRF Challenge season in Chennai, India at the weekend. The young British racer concluded the series with a trio of second place finishes, his best performance of the four event campaign.
Newey qualified on the front row for the first race held last Saturday alongside Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of former double F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
Harrison tailed Fittipaldi in the final stages of the races and was almost within striking distance at the chequered flag, and he finished just 1.7 seconds behind the Brazilian, who was crowned 2015/16 MRF champion in India last weekend.
Newey again claimed second position in race two where he climbed from fifth on the grid, which was reversed from the race one result. The 17 year-old drove an intelligent race, staying out of incidents which punctuated the event. He was able to finish the race just 0.7s from the winner, Nikita Troitskiy.
Race three saw another fine performance from Newey, and just as in race one he again pressured Fittipaldi all the way to the flag. Setting the fastest lap as he did so, Newey completed a hat-trick of second places.
The final race of the 2015/16 MRF season saw Newey make a spirited quest to make up positions from his reversed grid placing of fifth. On the opening lap he attempted a move off-line but with the track still affected by some recent flooding he lost momentum and fell to the rear of the field. There then followed an excellent comeback drive to eighth position and the confirmation that his Chennai points haul had elevated him in to fifth position in the final MRF Challenge standings.
Newey now prepares for his maiden FIA European Formula Three Championship with the Van Amersfoort Racing team. With just a month to go before pre-season testing begins, the young British racer will be focusing on the physical and mental preparation for his second full season in single-seaters, where he will race with the world’s best young drivers.
“It was a very strong weekend at Chennai. I really liked the circuit; it reminded me of Oulton Park or Brands Hatch, a place with a lot of character, but also a real challenge. Sometimes with the more modern tracks they can be a bit similar and formulaic, so it is nice to have a narrower circuit and one that rewards the driver.
“The track conditions were really tricky after the recent floods the city had suffered. Off-line there was a silty substance that made it very treacherous to go off-line. In the first and third races I was able to get close to Pietro (Fittipaldi) and we were really evenly matched all weekend, which was evident in qualifying where we were just 0.03s apart.
“In the second race I was able to come through from fifth place and capitalise on a few incidents for other drivers, and then in the final race I got a good start from the outside but after the first turn I hit the silty dirt off-line and went off and lost a lot of places, but I made quite a few back up to come home eighth.
“On the whole the MRF series has been terrific for me. I have been racing against some much more experienced drivers and that has been a very valuable and interesting experience. I think it will add to my knowledge bank a lot as I now prepare for F3 with Van Amersfoort Racing.
“I have to say that J Anand (JA Motorsport) and Arun Mammen from MRF Tyres produced a terrific championship and one that I think is a real test for young drivers. You have to say it is the go to place for single-seater drivers in the of-season. I really enjoyed being part of it over the last three months."