Martono and Gowda share final day F4 SEA honours
MEDIA RELEASE: The final day of the Formula 4 South East Asia (F4/SEA) Championship – certified by FIA got underway on Sunday with the two remaining races from the six that were scheduled for the event.
With a very early start, the fifth race would have the same theme as the previous day’s races with action right from the get go. With the grid positions determined by the drivers’ fastest lap times from the previous race, the pole position start would belong to Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish (MAS, Car #19), with Saturday’s double winner Presley Martono (INA, Car #32) alongside in P2.
The 8-lap race would prove another exciting affair throughout with battles that included a fight for the lead between Martono and Isyraf Danish and a battle for the final podium spot between Danial Frost (SIN, Car #66) and India’s Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33). After another photo-finish, it was Martono who would prevail over Isyraf with the victory keeping Isyraf Danish at bay in P2. Finishing in third was Danial Frost (SIN, Car #66), who edged Gowda to the line.
The sixth and final race of the weekend, which was also the final race of the season featured another intense 8-lap race. With the grid determined by the drivers’ finishing positions from the previous race, the race also had the added twist of having the top-half reversed.
That meant a pole position start for Oman’s Khalid Al-Wahaibi (OMN, Car #8) ahead of Gowda and Frost. Proving to be the most intense race of the lot, the drama-filled race was won by Gowda who managed to turn around what had been a difficult weekend for the young Indian ace.
After taking the lead from Al-Wahaibi on the opening lap, Gowda never looked back as he claimed the win. Al-Wahaibi finished in stellar second position after seeing off the challenge from other drivers in the early stages of the race. Claiming another third place finish was Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish who made it a great weekend with six podium finishes from the six races contested.
In addition to the race win he collected in Race 1, the young Malaysian was also crowned the Petron Star Driver of the sixth and final event of the F4/SEA championship.
Unlike previous events, the F4/SEA Overall Champion and F4/SEA Overall Rookie champion titles will be announced and awarded later on Sunday evening at the Meritus AAA Awards Gala night also at the Sepang International Circuit.
An early start for penultimate race of the season for the young drivers on Sunday morning promised another exciting race on the cards.
With the starting grid determined by the drivers’ fastest lap times from the previous day’s Race 4, it was Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish who had the advantage of the pole position start.
Lining up alongside the local youngster was Saturday’s double race winner, Martono with Kahia and Frost occupying the second row of the grid.
After a better start, the Malaysian youngster was able to hang on to the lead, but was quickly involved in a battle to defend the lead from Martono.
The Indonesian rookie would however prevail when his overtook Isyraf, the latter having the task of defending against Kahia.
With the field closely bunched together in the opening laps, the pace did eventually settle as Martono and Isyraf began opening up a gap to the rest of the field.
By the second lap, the action picked up again this time involving Frost who began challenging Kahia for P3 and succeeding.
The seemingly struggling Kiwi then had the task of defending his track position against Gowda, who also succeeded in taking P4 away from Kahia at the end of Lap 3.
At the front, another epic duel was on the cards as Isyraf Danish began to hone in on Martono by the mid-way point of the race.
Behind the pair, Gowda was also beginning to close in on Frost, which quickly developed into a battle royale for the final spot on the podium.
The two engaging battles would last all the way to flag, with Martono pulling out all the stops to defend against the Malaysian teenager; and Frost doing everything in his power to keep Gowda behind him.
The epic battle between the two pairs would last all the way to the flag with Martono and Isyraf again providing another photo finish with the Indonesian just edging the home favourite the slimmest of margins of 0.085s at the line.
Frost would also prevail after successfully defending against Gowda’s challenge, to finish in P3, keeping the Indian in P4. Rounding off the top-five finishers was Oman’s Al-Wahaibi. Malaysia’s Eric Louis finished in P6.
With the grid positions determined from the drivers’ finishing positions from the previous race, the sixth and final race of the weekend – which was also the final race of the inaugural season, also had the added twist of a reversed grid.
This meant that Oman’s Al-Wahaibi with the advantage starting from pole position ahead of India’s Gowda, Frost, Isyraf and Martono in positions second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
After a dramatic opening lap melee with all of the drivers jostling for position, it was Gowda who came out on top taking the lead of the race from Al-Wahaibi. Behind the leading two drivers, there was plenty of action, including one involving the Kiwi Kahia who made a stunning start to jump from his P6 starting position to move up to P3.
Unfortunately, the Kiwi was unable to keep the position for long as Martono would take the position by the second lap.
With Gowda and Al-Wahaibi comfortably away, the bulk of the action was concentrated on the fight for P3 between Martono and Isyraf Danish as well as Frost.
By the fifth lap, that battle would become a four-way fight that included Martono, Isyraf and Frost, as the field started to close in on Al-Wahaibi.
But as the jostling continued between the Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean youngsters, Al-Wahaibi was able to put his foot down and pull away to re-establish a comfortable gap to keep his second place.
The fight for third spot continued to intensify as the trio jostled each other with the position changing several times towards the closing stages of the 8-lap race.
A brilliantly timed overtake move on the penultimate lap by Isyraf from fifth position saw the youngster jump both Martono and Frost, one the Malaysian driver kept all the way to the chequered flag.
Meanwhile, India’s Gowda made Race 6 a memorable comeback with an emphatic race victory after a difficult and challenging weekend, finishing well ahead of Al-Wahaibi, with Isyraf Danish rounding off a weekend that saw the youngster finish on the podium in every race.