Bang on the dot of 12:30 today, the Madras Motor Race Track saw something special, as the first FIA Formula 4 South East Asia (F4 SEA) – fueled by Petron – session took place on Indian soil! All eyes were on the favorites from Sepang and it was the Malaysian Muizz Musyaffa who started things off with a 1:40.329. But it wasn’t long before Ghiretti responded with a 1:40 dead, 3-tenths faster.
As the track continued to warm up, Alister Yoong, Antoine Potty and Luke Thompson in 4th, 5th and 6th places were separated by only 3-tenths of a second in this very close practice session. These lap times are vital as they determine the start order for qualifying and establish who gets out in front.
Unfazed by the speedsters behind him, Ghiretti continued to notch up quick times going 3 tenths faster while Muizz dived into the pits to have a quick word with his coach. Reigning rookie champion Kane Shepherd – cool as always – continued to chip away at his times, matching Muizz with a 1:40.37 and it wasn’t long before he found his footing and blasted past Muizz right onto Ghiretti’s tail with a 1:39.9.
Not one to take a beating, Muizz came out of the pits to set the fastest lap of the session, one-tenth ahead of Ghiretti. But the action wasn’t just at the front, as Yoong, Potty and Thompson battled it out for P4, separated by less than 100th of a second.
Muizz spun off and stalled at turn 5 with Ghiretti just ahead of him going on to set a new fastest lap 1:39.381 and potentially setting the results as the marshals tried to recover the Malaysian’s car.
Luckily, between driver and marshals, the yellow number 23 got back on the track and Muizz set his sights on the young man who was quickly becoming his rival, Alessandro Ghiretti.
The pit lane opened with 14 minutes on the board and all the cars filed back on track with Kane at the front sandwiching Muizz with Potty and Alister.
While we waited to see who would come out on top, Thompson took the reins of the trio battling for 4th, 5th and 6th place with a time just 3-thousandths ahead of Alister, with both drivers now in the 1:40s.
But as the clocked counted down to zero, it looked like no-one could match the Frenchman and it ended predictably in Ghiretti’s favour with Muizz and Shepherd within 6-tenths of a second off the Moroccan’s time.
“Yes, I am quite happy I was first and the time was good. I hope I can do the same again in qualifying but maybe if the weather is a little less hot I can go even faster,” said Ghiretti.
The results make an interesting grid for qualifying and a great start for the weekend, and all of us here in the paddock can’t wait to see what our drivers can do in the next session.
|3)||Kane Shepherd||1 :39,916|