KUALA LUMPUR, 9th June 2018: IT was a joyous night for Chinese rising star, Daniel Cao, when he bagged the Overall Champion award at the MERITUS Awards Gala presented by PETRON held at the ASTRO All-Asia Broadcast Centre in Bukit Jalil here last night.
Malaysians Muizz Musyaffa and Nazim Azman brought cheers to the home fans when they claimed the 3rd Rookie Champion and the Best Drive awards respectively. Last night’s awards show was organised to celebrate the best drivers in the 2017 FIA Formula 4 Southeast Asia Championship fuelled by PETRON season which concluded in April.
The FIA-sanctioned F4SEA championship was held over an eight-month period with races taking place at circuits in Sepang, Thailand and the Philippines.
The 16-year old Daniel, who notched 7 victories throughout the season, brushed aside his closest contenders Kane Shepherd of Thailand and Belgian young ace Ugo de Wilde who came in as 2nd and 3rd Overall champions respectively. The Overall Champion title comes with 12 valuable FIA Super Licence Points.
“I consider myself lucky to win the overall title tonight as there are a lot of good drivers out there last season. I would like to thank Peter Thompson for the great effort in putting up the challenge. I’m setting my eyes on bigger things this coming season including Asia Renault race and Formula 3,” said Daniel.
There was more joy for Daniel, who earlier picked up the Fastest Lap Award, recorded at the Sepang and Clark circuits, during the championship.
In the night’s other major award, Shepherd was crowned the Best Rookie of the championship, ahead of Japan’s Hibiki Taira and Muizz. Meanwhile, following his promising performances last season, Muizz was awarded the SIC-Scholarship to compete in the forthcoming F4 SEA season which begins in July.
The talented Muizz, 16, had a stunning season, which included two strong podium finishes in Sepang in the last round. Fired up by his success, the youngster is now looking forward to the new season and aiming to turn in even better results.
“I’m quite surprised with what I achieved last season, it was much better than I had expected. Finishing third in the rookie category and winning the SIC-Scholarship is a big boost to me as it would help me with my plans to continue racing in F4,” said Muizz.
For the Best Drive Award, Nazim, 17, who also competes in Europe, claimed the honours following his blistering victory in the F4 SEA opening round stage as a F1 GP Support Race 2017 in October.
F4SEA also revealed today that four drivers would be given the opportunity to be evaluated by the world’s leading F1 team, McLaren. The drivers will have a money-can’t-buy experience in an F1 atmosphere at the team headquarters in Woking, Surrey in England. UK.
Earlier in his speech, F4 SEA Promoter and CEO of Asian Autosport Action (AAA), Peter Thompson expressed optimism over the future of F4 SEA championship. “F4 not only helps grow racing talent but provides an abundance of career paths. We train and employ technicians, mechanics, engineers, cameramen, journalists and even TV producers!
The MERITUS Awards Gala is designed to reward, motivate and inspire motorsport careers. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the motorsport industry here in Asia, we must foster careers, starting from F4, the federation’s grassroots development formula,” he said.
Petron Malaysia Head of Retail Business, Puan Faridah Ali said: “The sponsorship helped us in promoting Asian auto sports in the region and boost the careers of young drivers by giving them a platform to further hone their skills. We are also proud to play a part in the careers of these homegrown talents that are quickly moving on to the top of the F4 SEA Championships. We hope that through our participation in the competition we are able to discover more local and regional talents and help create the next generation of professional racing drivers from Southeast Asia. It gives us pride seeing them graduate from Formula 4 to other Formula races.”
The aim of the awards programme is to profile and reward the region’s young racing talents for their achievement in the FIA-sanctioned event. The drivers are judged on their performances over five rounds of competitive racing in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The F4SEA Championship’s new season, to be staged at circuits in Sepang, Madras and Buriram, will begin in July and end in December.
1st Overall Champion: Daniel Cao (CHN)
2nd Overall Champion: Kane Shepherd (THA)
3rd Overall Champion: Ugo de Wilde (BEL)
1st Rookie Champion: Kane Shepherd (THA)
2nd Rookie Champion: Hibiki Taira (JPN)
3rd Rookie Champion: Muizz Musyafa (MAS)
Sepang, Malaysia: Daniel Cao (CHN)
Buriram, Thailand: Ugo de Wilde (BEL)
Clark, Philippines: Daniel Cao (CHN)
Best Drive: Nazim Azman (MYS)
Best Recovery: Luke Thompson (IRL)
Up & Coming Talent: Alessandro Ghiretti (FRA)
Best Engineer: Azizul Azfar (MYS)
Best Mechanic: Shah Effendy (MYS)