Chennai, Feb 16: In a dramatic turn of events, Rupert Svendsen-Cook from Britain who had won the MRF Challenge championship after the conclusion of the fourth and final round here Sunday, lost the crown to Tio Ellinas of Cyprus after stewards docked the 23-year-old Londoner a 30-second penalty for a violation.
The stewards, who met for over an hour after the conclusion of the races, penalised Svendsen-Cook for an aggressive manoeuvre that saw him going off the track and rejoining “in an aggressive manner pushing Ellinas off the track” in the first lap at Turn-7.
Going into the final race, Ellinas and Svendsen-Cook were tied on points and the duo was involved in a close battle through the 15-lap outing. Svendsen-Cook eventually finished behind Belgium’s Sam Dejonge while Ellinas came in third.
However, the stewards, after viewing video tapes of the incident and upon hearing both the drivers, decided to dock a 30-second penalty and Svendsen-Cook lost all the points he had scored in Sunday’s second race.
Consequently, Svendsen-Cook slipped to 12th place while Ellinas was elevated from third to second. The British driver has appealed the decision pending which the results were declared as provisional.
Ellinas thus clinched the championship with a tally of 215 points while Rupert-Svendsen remained on 195. Dejonghe who had two wins in three races this weekend, was third in the championship with 142 points.
While the title clash was raging, Indian ace Narain Karthikeyan thrilled the crowd with a superb win in the first race. Lying fourth at one point in the 15-lap race, Karthikeyan pulled out all stops and gained three places in the final laps to emerge winner ahead of Ellinas and Sevendsen-Cook.
In the next race, however, Karthikeyan and Harry Ticknell came together. The Indian lost track position and was not classified.
Meanwhile, 16-year old Chennai lad Tarun Reddy, winner of the first race on Saturday, completed a double in the MRF Formula Ford 1600 category with another last-lap overtaking in the second race on Sunday.
Reddy, who has signed up for British Formula Renault this year, started fourth in the reverse grid formation, but managed to move up the grid in the 10-lap race and eventually to second behind Vikash Anand.
With less than a lap to go, Reddy came up with a brilliant move at Turn-8, a right hander at the end of a fast straight, and slipped past Anand under braking. The teenager then nursed his lead to the finish line.
MRF Challenge F2000: Race -1 (15 laps): Narain Karthikeyan (India) 1 (26mins, 47.015secs); Tio Ellinas (Cyprus) 2 (26:48.706); Rupert Svendsen-Cook (UK) 3 (26:49.071); Sam Dejonghe (Belgium) 4 (26:50.954). Gaurav Gill, Raj Bharath, Vikash Anand (all India) not classified.
Race-2 (15 laps): Sam Dejonghe (Belgium) 1 (26:57.825); Tio Ellinas (Cyprus) 3 (27:09.499); Dylan Young (Australia) 3 (27:12.207); Gaurav Gill (India) 4 (27:12.891); Vikash Anand (India) 7 (27:19.635); Raj Bharath (India) 10 (27:25.260). Narain Karthikeyan (India) not classified.
MRF Formula Ford 1600 (10 laps): Tarun Reddy 1 (18:39.170); Vikash Anand 2 (18:39.626); Advait Deodhar 3 (18:47.370).