Tatiana Calderón rounded off the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 season in style in Chennai, India, sealing second place in the championship with her seventh podium finish of an assured campaign.
As the series drew to a conclusion at the tricky Madras Motor Race Track, Tatiana was once again among the protagonists fighting at the front of another high-quality field – with added opposition coming in the form of MRF debutant Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael.
An error by Tatiana during her crucial qualifying lap would make the task of catching championship leader Pietro Fittipaldi, who arrived in Chennai with a 18-point lead at the head of the standings, that much harder. But her grid position of seventh offered another opportunity to demonstrate her considerable overtaking prowess around a venue notorious for its lack of passing opportunities.
Indeed, Tatiana was able to gain two places in the opening race of the weekend, scoring valuable points in fifth and putting her in a strong position for the reverse-grid second race, and the 22-year-old had been in the ideal position to benefit from a late tangle between Tarun Reddy and Alessio Picariello during their battle for the lead.
Unfortunately, the Colombian was denied the opportunity to record what would have been a second win of the season thanks to an over-optimistic lunge by Schumacher, who later made further contact with Tatiana from which she was lucky to recover. Some expert car control nonetheless allowed her to finish fourth and maintain her unbroken streak of top-six finishes since the start of the season.
It was this stage that Tatiana was forced to turn her attention towards defending second place in the points from Nikita Troitskiy, directly behind whom she finished in Race 3 – once again coming fourth – to set up a showdown in the final race of the season.
Coming under pressure from Troitskiy, Tatiana stood her ground in third until her Russian rival ran off-track, and then expertly fended off newly-crowned champion Fittipaldi in the closing stages to clinch the final step on the podium and end her campaign on a high note.
Tatiana Calderón: “The whole season has been very positive, and I was really happy to finish second in the championship behind Pietro. I was really consistent in the races, and it was a great confidence boost to be able to challenge for wins and podiums against such good opposition. My mistake in qualifying made the whole weekend a lot harder, but when you are able to overcome all the adversity it makes the end result all the more satisfying. It was a very special weekend in Chennai, and I’d like to thank MRF for the opportunity to compete – I hope I can go back next year and challenge again for the title!”
Tatiana concluded the MRF season with 199 points from 14 races, 45 behind Fittipaldi, banking seven podium finishes along the way. She now returns to Europe to begin preparations for the upcoming season, with an announcement of the exact nature of her 2016 programme due imminently.