Day 2 of proceedings at the third event of the Formula 4 South East Asia (F4/SEA) – certified by FIA at Indonesia’s Sentul International Circuit got underway on Saturday with a bumper three-race schedule.

Claiming the early honours with victory in Race 2 in the morning was India’s Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33) who edged out the competition to claim a hard-fought victory. Finishing in second was Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish (MAS, Car #19). Mohamed Nalwalla (IND, Car #46)’s third place finish in the race made it a double celebration for the two Indian drivers.

The mid-day Race 3 belonged to Kiwi Faine Kahia (NZL, Car #55) who managed to edge out Presley Martono (INA, Car #32) for the win. That left the Indonesian to claim the second spot, with Malaysia’s Chia Wing Hoong (MAS, Car #68) in the bronze medal position.

The heavy early afternoon downpour meant a wet Race 4 though the rain had actually ceased before the start of the 14-lap race. It did quickly become a race of attrition as the drivers struggled to manage their tyres in the rapidly drying track. Home favourite Martono made it a memorable race when he pulled off a great move to take the lead from Kahia on the final corner of the final lap to claim his first win of the weekend. Finishing second was Kiwi Kahia ahead of India’s Nalwalla after a flurry of activity on the final lap.

The final day of racing on Sunday will see the two remaining races of the six scheduled contested with the award for the Overall Event Champion up for grabs.

Race Reports

Race 2 (12 Laps, Dry)

With grid positions determined from the fastest lap from Friday’s first race, it would be Danial Frost (SIN, Car #66) who had the honours of starting from pole position with local hero Presley Martono (INA, Car #32) alongside from P2. Oman’s Khalid Al-Wahaibi (OMN, Car #8) was in P3 ahead of Malaysia’s Chia Wing Hoong (MAS, Car #68), who was starting from P4.

The 12-lap race would however get off to a dramatic start when the leading two drivers were embroiled in a battle for position into the first sequence of corners. The duel would however end poorly when a collision between Frost and Martono led to a premature end for both drivers. Behind the pair, Malaysia’s Chia Wing Hoong also found his race compromised when a mistake proved a costly one when he too retired early. Those two incidents prompted race officials to deploy safety car, which ran for several laps.

In the incident-filled melee, it was the Kiwi Faine Kahia (NZL, Car #55) who inherited the race lead, ahead of India’s Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33) and Keanon Santoso (INA, Car #88).

At the restart at the mid-way point of the race provided more action with Kahia and Gowda close together in a battle for first. It was a battle that the Indian won after Kahia was penalised for an infringement and had to settle for P5. That left the battle for P2 between Santoso and Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish (MAS, Car #8).

The drama did not however end there, as a final lap incident between Santoso and Isyraf saw the Indonesian lose the battle for P2 when he spun out on the final sequence of corners on the final lap. Taking the third and final spot on the podium was India’s Mohamed Nalwalla, who made it a double podium celebration for the two Indian drivers.

Race 3 (12 Laps, Dry)

With the finishing positions from Race 2 determining the grid for the dry mid-day Race 3, there was a slight twist with the top 50% of the grid reversed. This meant that Oman’s Al-Wahaibi would start from pole position with Race 2’s podium finisher Nalwalla alongside him in P2. Race 2 winner Gowda would start from the second row of the grid in P3 with Kahia in P4 with Frost and Presley behind the pair from P5 and P6, respectively.

A spectacular start by Kahia saw the Kiwi make up considerable ground to lead the field ahead of Frost and Al-Wahaibi on the opening lap. Though the majority of the young drivers did have a clean start off the line, an early incident further down the field did see the appearance of the safety car for two laps. At the restart on the third lap of the 12-lap race, Kahia managed to hold on the lead after successfully fending off the challenge from Frost. Unfortunately, the battle did not swing in Frost’s favour as the Singaporean lost out to Martono after suffering a problem with his car.

With the Singaporean quickly fading, both Kahia and Martono had the breathing room to make the most of the clear track to put in some quick laps to open up a gap to the field.

A mistake by Santoso on Lap 4 did bring out a second safety car period, just as Martono had begun to close in on Kahia to challenge for the race lead. The restart of the race four laps later did see a closely fought battle for the lead, but a mistake by Martono did release Kahia to open up a healthy lead, one he held through to the flag. Meanwhile, a great fight from a recovering Martono did see the Indonesian recover ground to find him in a five-way fight for the second and third positions.

With Kahia in the lead and Martono in a comfortable second, the other on track battle involved a three-horse race between Al-Wahaibi, Wing Hoong and Isyraf. The Omani driver quickly came under pressure from Wing Hoong, who managed to take the position from Al-Wahaibi at the flag, to secure his maiden podium finish in the F4/SEA championship.

Race 4 (14 Laps, Wet)

The grid for the afternoon’s wet Race 4 was determined by the second fastest lap set by the drivers in qualifying. This meant Singaporean Frost would take pole position ahead of Kahia, Martono, Santoso and Nalwalla in second, third, fourth and fifth positions on the starting grid. A great start off the line by the Singaporean saw Frost retain the lead ahead with Kahia and Martono not far behind.

The drying conditions did see Kahia begin to close in on Frost, and pull away from Martono. With the drivers more cautious in the challenging conditions, the gap between Frost, Kahia and Martono remained relatively consistent for the first few laps. That left the bulk of the action between Santoso and Isyraf who had yet another interesting on-track battle for fourth. The situation remained relatively the same for most of the race until Lap 9, when the race turned into one of attrition as the drivers struggled to manage their wet tyres in a rapidly drying track.

The first to suffer was Frost who went off on the first corner, gifting Kahia the lead of the race. But even that situation quickly changed in the closing laps when Martono began to significantly reduce the deficit to Kahia. Behind the pair, the battle royale between Santoso and Isyraf became a three-way fight with Wing Hoong joining the battle for the final podium spot.

Meanwhile at the front, Kahia had a monumental task of defending a charging Martono while also trying to manage his tyres. The Indonesian had closed in on the Kiwi on the closing laps; enough to challenge Kahia into the final corner in what was a spectacular fight to the finish. It was a fight that saw the Indonesian prevail to claim his first win on home soil, leaving Kahia to settle for second.

There was also drama in the fight for third between Santoso, Isyraf and Wing Hoong. A collision between the three young drivers on the final lap saw all three retire, handing India’s Nalwalla the final spot on the podium.

Selected Driver Comments

Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33) – Winner Race 2: “That was amazing! And to get a double for India with Mohamed (Nalwalla) also up on the podium with me is pretty cool! Even though it was a dry race in the morning, the track was still a bit damp after Friday’s downpour. The race itself was mostly about survival, about whoever makes the least amount of mistakes. I did see a few of the drivers make mistakes and I managed to take advantage of the situation and capitalise on it.”

Isyraf Danish (MAS, Car #19) – P2 Race 2: “To get another podium after Race 1 on Friday is great, and to get second after finishing third yesterday is really nice! I had a really good fight with Keanon (Santoso) during the race for position. I was about to overtake him but I was forced off the track, but managed to come back. It is unfortunate that Keanon was not able to recover.”

Mohamed Nalwalla (IND, Car #46) – P3 Race 2, P3 Race 3: “I am really happy with third place in Race 2! I had a good start and was able to gain a lot of positions. The race itself was about survival because the track conditions were really dusty and slippery. Thankfully I managed it and pulled it off in the end. It’s great to be up here with Akash. It’s nice to be able to represent the country up here! In Race 4, the conditions were really tricky. So, I am really happy to be on the podium again. I managed to keep the car on track and maintain my pace, which was the objective. I did not actually have a great start and lost quite a bit of ground but I managed to keep that car on track even though I had virtually no grip at the end!”

Faine Kahia (NZL, Car #55) – Winner Race 3; P2 Race 4: “I am super stoked with this win in Race 3, especially after the disappointment from yesterday. I was really happy with my pace and in this race it was about being smart and trying to make the right decisions. I was able to lead from the start through to the finish. It has been a tough weekend so far, especially after getting pole position in qualifying and then to suffer a mechanical problem and a penalty. In this race, everything went to plan and I am really happy! In Race 4 it was declared a wet race after the heavy downpour, which meant it was all about tyre management, which was fine in the beginning. But as the track started to dry out, my tyres began to wear out, which made it tough! Props to Presley (Martono) for catching up and he did really well and managed to take the lead from me on the last corner of the last lap. Despite that, I am really happy and also slightly disappointed.“

Chia Wing Hoong (MAS, Car #68) – P3 Race 3: “I actually started from P3 but had a really bad start, and dropped quite a few places. So I had to focus on managing my pace and slowly began to recover and regain positions. I was able to catch some of the drivers ahead of me in the braking zones. On the last lap, I was following Khalid (Al-Wahaibi) and began closing in on him and tried to overtake him on the exit of Turn 2. Though he drove a very defensive race, I did manage to go for the gap. Overall, I am really happy to finally get on the podium as I did get close before and it finally happened.”

Presley Martono (INA, Car #32) – P2 Race 3; Winner Race 4: “In Race 3 I was really happy but also slightly annoyed with the mistake I made, which really cost me quite a bit of time, especially to be able to challenge Faine (Kahia).”

“I did not actually get a good start in Race 4 and am a bit disappointed with my pace in the first half of the race. But then my pace began to improve lap by lap, and I was able to close in on Faine. I could see that he was starting to struggle a bit with his tyres and then I had the one chance on the final corner on the final lap, and I took it!”

Selected Quotes

 Peter Thompson, Chairman, Triple A: ”Today provided yet another exciting race with a lot of action! We are extremely pleased with how the event is progressing, particularly the support and encouragement the Indonesian drivers have been receiving from everyone here. Congratulations to Presley Martono for a fantastic race to the finish victory over in Race 4, which proved to be a highly popular win.”

Firhat Mokhzani, Managing Director, Triple A:  “Another interesting and exciting day of racing with the weather again playing a hand in the day’s proceedings. This did throw up quite a number of challenges to the young drivers especially at what is a tricky circuit. This is especially so when you add the variable conditions, particularly in Race 4, which gave them all the wonderful opportunity to learn how to manage their tyres. Congratulations to Akash (Gowda), Faine (Kahia) and Presley Martono on their wins today.”

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