Sakhir (Bahrain), Dec 20: Cypriot driver Tio Ellinas took the championship lead in the MRF Challenge with a brilliant win and second place in the two races of Round 3 here Friday.
British driver Rupert Svendsen-Cook won Race 1 before being punted out of the lead in Race 2, severely damaging his title prospects.
Ellinas finished in second place while Arthur Pic finished in third place in Race 1. Ellinas won in the evening ahead of Pic and Sam Dejonghe.
In Race 1, Ellinas started on pole position ahead of Svendsen-Cook and Dejonghe with the top four drivers separated by less than three-tenths of a second.
Ellinas had a good start and was side-by-side with Svendsen-Cook as they went into the first corner. Svendsen-Cook had the inside for the turn 2 and went ahead with Ellinas right behind him.
Dejonghe held on to third place with Pic struggling to hold off Japanese driver Shinya Michimi for fourth place. Ellinas started to put pressure on Svendsen-Cook but was never close enough to make a move.
Behind them Pic passed Dejonghe and started to catch the front two drivers. With five laps to go Svendsen-Cook, Ellinas and Pic were close to each other. Pic passed Ellinas into turn 4 only for the Cypriot driver to get him back on the back straight. This allowed Svendsen-Cook to pull away and register his third win of the season.
Ellinas held on to second position with Pic finishing third.
Raj Bharath, who had earlier qualified in 8th position, was the highest Indian finisher with 12th place.
In Race 2, Michimi started on reverse-grid pole position alongside Dejonghe. Svendsen-Cook, who started in sixth position, made another great start to move up to second in to the first corner behind Michimi. Pic, who started in fourth position, lost out at the lead and ended up seventh at the end of the first corner.
Michimi led with Svendsen-Cook and Ellinas right behind. On lap 5, Svendsen-Cook got past Michimi and went into the lead with Ellinas right behind them as well.
On the following lap Michimi tried to re-pass Svendsen-Cook into the second corner but ended up hitting his left rear tyre instead. Svendsen-Cook retired on the spot with Michimi continuing, albeit losing the lead to Ellinas.
Michimi was later given a 30-second penalty for his part in the collision. Pic managed to fight his way upto second place after being seventh in lap 1.
Further back Bharath was once again the fastest of the Indian drivers and finished in 10th place.