The Formula 4 South East Asia Championship – fueled by Petron – has entered the final day of Event 4 here at the amazingly beautiful Sepang International Circuit, supporting the Asian Le Mans Endurance Series.
After an amazing first day, the F4 SEA’s contenders were eager to once again display their talents during the final three races.
The starting positions of race 4 were determined by the fastest laps in race 3, putting Eshan Pieris on pole. However, the Sri Lankan suffered a mechanical difficulty just as he pulled out of the pits, preventing him from starting the race.
This bumped up the grid with Kane Shepherd finding himself on the front row.
As the eagerly-awaited five red lights went out, the highly-excitable squadron tore down the straight. Kane Shepherd of Thailand led the pack around the F1 ’super circuit,’ with Aaron Love in tow alongside Belgium’s Ugo De Wilde.
Adam Khalid ran into difficulty at turn 5 and 6 which culminated in a fuel line blow-out going up the hill into turn 9, ending his race early.
Kane Shepherd led the fourth race from lap1 and took the flag ahead of Ugo, who had snatched up second from Love at turn 2. The Australian fought to the bitter end, crossing the line 8 hundredths-of-a-second behind Ugo.
|2)||Ugo de Wilde||27||Belgium||20:08.932|
|10)||Liam Lawrence||99||Sri Lanka||20:42.540|
|13)||Eshan Pieris||30||Sri Lanka||DNS|
Yet again it was a fantastic start for the Formula 4 SEA stars as they barrelled down the main straight at full speed.
Ugo De Wilde was the first to head into Turn 1 followed swiftly by Hibiki Taira of Japan.
Bangkok-native Kane Shepherd trailed the Okinawan with the rest of the field in hot pursuit.
As the competitors navigated Turn 15, an incident involving Muizz Musyaffar and Alister Yoong saw both Malaysian contenders collide with one another. Muizz managed to carry on while Alister nursed his car back to the pits, subsequently retiring.
After the third lap, the field settled in for the battle ahead with Muizz trailing the leader by almost 30 seconds in the aftermath of his incident.
By the mid-point of the race, Mitchell Cheah of Malaysia found the pace to take 3rd position from Kane Shepherd who was facing immense pressure from Terengganu-born Adam Khalid behind him.
Cao managed to pass Benson Lin of Taipei, who stuttered as he went past Turn 15. Meanwhile, Aaron Love of Perth was making good progress as he climbed up the mid-field.
Adam was now defending hard against advances from Cao and Love.
Muizz on the other hand, had made up so much time that he overtook Luke Thompson.
As the chequered flag waved, Hibiki and Ugo de Wilde crossed the line in a photo finish, only a hair’s width apart. The Belgian took the top spot followed by Hibiki and Mitchell.
“Sepang is very different from Buriram. It is more technical and the competition is stronger, but I really enjoy that!” said Ugo, the winner of Race 5.
“I’m really very happy too with the results. This is a great motivator for the final race,” said the second runner up, Mitchel Cheah.
|1)||Ugo de Wilde||27||Belgium||20:13.912|
|8)||Eshan Pieris||30||Sri Lanka||20:29.467|
|11)||Liam Lawrence||99||Sri Lanka||20:51.400|
The stakes had never been higher. The final race of the Formula 4 SEA Championship – fueled by Petron – was an absolute heart- and show-stopper that had everyone on the edge of their seats.
The starting grid for race 6, determined by the outcome of race 5, saw the top 50% of the grid reversed. This meant Adam Khalid was in pole position.
However an issue with his machine prevented the Malaysian from starting on the grid and he was forced to start from the pit lane.
Daniel Cao had a great start off the line with Kane Shepherd inches behind him.
The field filed down to Turn 1 gracefully enough, but the rest of the race was relentless wheel-to-wheel action. So intense was it, that Eshan Pieris found himself sliding out of top contention at Turn 6.
Kane Shepherd took the lead shortly thereafter, which left Cao no choice but to amp the pressure on the Thai lad.
Behind them a lot of bobbing and weaving was going on between Ugo and Hibiki in a battle royale for third place.
Kane, at this point was starting to pull out a substantial lead over the lightning-fast pack behind him. Hibiki then overtook Ugo for third position.
The foursome – Kane, Cao, Ugo and Hibiki had put some distance between themselves and the mid-fielders.
At the mid-way point, Hibiki found the chance to grab second place from Cao. Not far behind was Mitchell Cheah who started to gain ground on the front runners.
Muizz Musyaffa and Benson Lin started to lock horns with each other from lap 6 onwards. Joining them was Adam Khalid, who had made up incredible time to catch the duo.
By the final lap, the heat was truly on. The drivers were at their peak, concentrating hard on the job at hand.
The flag waved Kane Shepherd as the winner of the final race of event 4, with Hibiki Taira and Daniel Cao coming in second and third.
“I’m on top of the world right now. It was hard-fought battle but experience helped me maintain the lead. Overall – it’s been great!” said a very excited Kane.
“I gave it my best. But I need to have more time in the car. Testing will help me gain more experience,” admitted Cao, while Hibiki commented:
“I really wanted to win. But I’m happy with my result. I will do better next time.”
|5||Ugo de Wilde||27||Belgium||20:24.550|
|10||Liam Lawrence||99||Sri Lanka||20:45.690|
|13||Eshan Pieris||30||Sri Lanka||DNF|