MRF Challenge: Drugovich wins Race 1 in Bahrain after disaster for van Kalmthout
It was a fighting start in Race 1 of the 2017/18 MRF Challenge season, with pole-sitter Rinus van Kalmthout losing out to front-row starter Felipe Drugovich at the end of Lap 1.
The Dutchman, however, fought back to retain his lead on Lap 2 and slowly built a sound advantage over the Brazilian in the 10-lap race at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Meanwhile, it was a fight behind, with the series veteran Dylan Young rising up to third from seventh on the grid, with Presley Martono looking ever-close to take the Australian.
The Indonesian did manage to clear Young on Lap 3, to slot himself in the podium position in third, after he had overtaken Frenchman Julien Falchero.
A steady race ensued upfront, until Lap 9 when van Kalmthout slowed down to eventually retire due to a mechanical problem, handing the lead to Drugovich with Martono right on his tail.
The two had a fierce battle towards the end, but Drugovich managed to hold on by a mere 0.649s to take his second win in the championship - the first in the 2017/18 season.
Behind, Young was unchallenged to take his first MRF Challenge podium since the 2013/14 season, with series debutant Alex Karkosik finishing fourth - recovering from a difficult start.
Rounding the Top 5 was Pator Maldonado's cousin Manuel, who had a lonely race en-route to his best result in the Indian international winter championship.
GP3 racer Falchero had a difficult run on his debut, after losing places at the start. He eventually crossed the line in sixth, recovering from an earlier off moment.
Meanwhile, the battle between USA's Robert Megennis and Malaysia's Nazim Azman went on throughout the race, with the American having the last laugh to finish seventh.
The final spots in the Top 10 was completed by a recovering Pavan Ravishankar - who also lost positions at the start - and Belgian's Michelangelo Amendola.
The rest of the finishers lined up with Swede Henning Enqvist in 11th, ahead of a fighting German Richard Wagner and Indonesia's Perdana Putra Minang.
With Luis Gachot missing the race, gentleman driver Christopher Mariot was called up last-minute as he was the last finisher in 15th, behind Singapore's Danial Frost.
Joining van Kalmthout in the retirement list was the Australian pair of Kurt Hill and Harri Jones, who had a coming together few laps into the race.