Malaysia’s Adam Khalid found himself on pole for the penultimate race of the season with his comrade Shahkirah Shaharul alongside him. The duo both know Sepang like the back of their hands but might have less experience in formula cars than some, so we are very interested to see what Malaysia can show us. Not forgetting of course that the championship leaders are starting from the back of the grid, by virtue of the reverse starting positions, the next 12 laps are going to be something to watch!
But it was Shihab Al Habsi from Oman who put a smile on our faces! The Omani native, who joins F4 for the first time this weekend, had a fantastic start! Ducking in behind Adam Khalid’s yellow number zero before pulling outside and leading us through the first turn with several groups in the pack going two, three or even four three wide just behind him.
Up the hill into turn four Oman was already pulling away, no doubt utilizing his experience in F4 France, as Adam Khalid bunched up Moulay El Aloui and Timothy Yeo with Kane Shepherd taking Louie Westover around the outside. Ghiretti and Musyaffa had also surged forward and followed Alister Yoong around the 90-degree corner and up into turn 5.
Cresting at the entrance to the flat-out left hander the pack descended into the high speed second sector where Kane Shepherd blitzed past Timothy Yeo through turn 7, a repeat of his performance with Luke Thompson earlier in the year, with Alessandro making the same move on Muizz Musyaffa.
The pack hurtled into turn 9 where Ghiretti and Shepherd both gained position, before the mid grid went four wide down the back straight where the flying Frenchman found his way into third at the last corner.
From the last two on the grid, the championship leaders were up into the top three by the end of the first lap and now all the pressure in the world was placed squarely on the shoulders of young Shihab Al Habsi.
To our delight the Omani speedster came to life at the front of the grid, building a 2.5 second gap by the end of the first lap! Shepherd started chasing Al Habsi down, but the Omani matched his pace close enough to hold on for 20 minutes.
With two laps to go, the gap from Al Habsi to Shepherd was under four tenths. Kane was all over the Omani driver but went wide exiting one of the high-speed corners, giving Al Habsi a smidge of breathing room and equalizing the gap between the top three. We had thought that this would be just enough for Shihab to finish first, with Alessandro perhaps distracting Kane from the top spot, unfortunately it wasn’t mean to be when the red number 34’s gear shift compressor failed coming out of turn 10.
Unable to shift the Omani dropped back and eventually returned to the pit to avoid damaging the car further. Unphased the championship leaders continued racing with Ghiretti giving it one last push! But as the chequered flag waved it was Thailand, France, Malaysia – Shepherd, Ghiretti, Musyaffa.
|3)||Private: Shihab Al Habsi|
|4)||Private: Moulay el Aloui|
|6)||Private: Louie Westover|
|9)||Private: Lucca Allen|
|12)||Private: Malthe Jakobsen|
|5)||Private: Lucca Allen||27:38.197||2:16.340|
|7)||Private: Louie Westover||27:50.081||2:16.417|
|10)||Private: Moulay el Aloui||28:43.974||2:19.930|
|12)||Private: Shihab Al Habsi||23:02.397||2:15.159||DNF|
|13)||Private: Malthe Jakobsen||23:25.698||2:16.542||DNF|