Organisers keen on making MRF Challenge a "regional F3 championship"
JA Motorsport's managing director J. Anand had said he is aiming to turn MRF Challenge into a fully-fledged Formula 3 series in the coming years.
The India-based international off-season championship is currently working with the FIA to secure the status of a regional F3 category.
"We are very keen to make this the regional F3 championship. We are in talks with the FIA," Anand told Motorsport.com.
"The FIA has always been supportive of junior formula categories and have hopefully been seeing the work we have been doing in the region."
In order to acquire the status, MRF will implement a host of changes to the car for the forthcoming season, including a switch to a 2.5L engine from the existing 2.0L Renault engine.
"We are keen for the car to be as close to F3 performance as possible," Anand said.
"We plan to replace the existing 210bhp two-litre Renault engine with a 250bhp, four-cylinder engine.
"The Dallara chassis is being modified to have a longer wheelbase, with re-profiling of the wings, paddle-shift, larger brakes, and bigger wheels and updated MRF tyres.
"The car is a big step forward for us and looks very different to its predecessor."
While talking about next season, Anand revealed that the plan is for the series to kick off in Bahrain, as a support category to the World Endurance Championship.
Bahrain is then to be followed by rounds in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the finale in Chennai, with an expected total of 16 races - two more than in 2015/16.
Engine manufacturer unconfirmed
Anand said that the series is in discussions over several manufacturers that could provide the necessary 2.5L engines, but stressed that no decision has been made yet.
"We are yet to decide on the engine even though we are talking to many manufacturers.
"The basic engines will be bought internationally but all modifications will be done by the team here at JA Motorsport in India."
Newey feedback "an honour"
Anand confirmed that he received feedback from legendary Formula 1 engineer Adrian Newey, who was in the paddock during the 2015/16 season while supporting his son Harrison - albeit it was stressed that the Red Bull designer was not further involved with work on the new MRF Challenge machine.
"It was an honour for us to have someone like Adrian look at our car," Anand stated.
"He was kind enough to share his feedback with us. Any views Adrian has on a race car you can’t help but listen to."
Anand also expressed happiness with the presence of Juan Pablo Montoya, Allan McNish and Jean Alesi at the races.
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