Sakhir (Bahrain): Cypriot driver Tio Ellinas beat French rival Arthur Pic for pole position in Round 2 of the MRF Challenge at the Bahrain International Circuit here Thursday.
Ellinas` flying lap of 2:02.960 was enough for the top spot in qualifying ahead of the two races Friday followed by a double header Saturday. It is the first time tyre maker MRF has taken the series to international shores.
Pic set 2:03.346 to qualify ahead of Brit Rupert Svendsen-Cook, who was three-tenths slower than the Formula Renault 3.5 driver. The two had won a race each in the series opener in Greater Noida last month.
Ellinas, who came fourth in the GP3 Championship this year, is backing himself to win a couple of races during the weekend after striking pole in his maiden appearance here.
"It feels good to be on pole in such a competitive field. It is even more satisfying as it was my first on the track. I really like the flow of this track though its roughness makes things interesting for the race," Ellinas told IANS referring to the 20 car grid featuring only three Indians.
Ellinas` second fastest lap of 2:02.983 ensures he will start Race 3 on pole. The second race will have a reverse grid.
Indians continued to disappoint in a competition which aims to back the local talent.
Parth Ghorpade finished 15th while Vikash Anand and Raj Bharath came 18th and 19th.
Asked what is going wrong with the Indians, former F3 race winner Svendsen-Cook said: "It is a tricky one. In the end, it all boils down to experience. They will get there eventually. This is my first time here."
Prince of Bahrain Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalili produced the 11th fastest time.
1 Tio Ellinas (CYP) 2:02.960
2 Arthur Pic FRA 2:03.324
3 Rupert Svendsen-Cook (GBR) 2:03.551
4 Shinya Michimi (JPN) 2:03.845
5 Harry Tincknell (GBR) 2:03.884
6 Sam Brabham (GBR) 2:04.150
7 Sam Dejonghe (BEL) 2:04.693
8 Yudai Jinkawa (JPN) 2:05.488
9 Ryan Cullen (IRL) 2:05.718
10 Renan Guerra (BRA) 2:05.760
13 2 Parth Ghorpade (IND) 2:06.410 8 15 +3.450 +0.009 154.1
18 10 Vikash Anand (IND) 2:07.498 9 14 +4.538 +0.115 152.8
19 20 Raj Bharath (IND) 2:09.522