SE Asia F4 Day 2 – Clean sweep for Love with 4 wins
Friday, 9 December 2016 – Day two of the fourth event in the inaugural season of the Formula 4 South East Asia (F4/SEA) Championship – certified by FIA saw a long day of racing for the young drivers following an early start on Friday morning. With four races being contested on a bumper-packed day, the day belonged to Jordan Love who made it a clean sweep after winning all four races.
The Australian’s stellar day had kicked off well following an impressive race victory in the morning’s Race 2. Finishing in second was Singapore’s Danial Frost (SIN, Car #66), with India’s Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33) securing his first visit to the podium in third place. Also making it on to the podium was Indonesia’s Presley Martono (INA, Car #32) whose fourth place had earned him the rookie win for the race.
The mid-morning Race 3 proved an interesting affair with the grid positions determined from the drivers’ finishing positions from previous race, with the top half reversed. Despite having to start down from P5, the Australian emerged triumphant after an epic duel with Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33) with the Indian driver settling for second place. Finishing in third was Martono, ahead of Faine Kahia (NZL, Car #55) whose strong pace saw the Kiwi finish just outside of the podium in P4.
Love would also claim the top honours in the early afternoon Race 4, though the 10-lap race became a hotly contested affair between Frost and Martono for second position. After losing second position following a poorer start compared to his Singaporean rival, the Indonesian would prevail in the end taking the position back to finish P2, leaving Frost to settle for P3.
Starting from pole in Race 5, Love did have to work harder to keep the lead in the opening stages of the race against Frost. But a mistake by the Singaporean proved costly as he would fall down the order, releasing Love to romp home with his fifth consecutive win of the weekend along having claimed the win in Race 1 on the first day. Finishing in second was New Zealand’s Kahia who managed to overcome his mechanical issues to finally bag a podium finish. In third position was Martono who had to defend against Gowda, with the latter eventually settling for fourth.
Race 2 (Dry – 8.00a.m, 8 Laps)
Race 2 (Dry – 8.00a.m, 8 Laps)
Despite the early morning downpour, the 8-lap second race of the six scheduled for the weekend was declared dry enough for slicks. Starting from pole courtesy of his fastest lap time from Race 1 was the Aussie ace ahead of India’s Akash Gowda, Kiwi Faine Kahia (NZL, Car #55) and Frost.
A slow getaway from the line at the start saw Gowda lose out to a charging Frost who managed a much better start to get a jump on the drivers ahead of him. By the first corner, the young Singaporean had already begun challenging Love for the lead. Behind Frost, there was drama for Martono who made a mistake and spun off on the opening lap. Though he did rejoin, the youngster had it all to do from ninth.
Meanwhile, the battles were brewing up and down the field, particularly between Love and Frost who were both embroiled in a battle for the race lead. Behind the leading duo, Kahia was also coming under intense pressure from a fast recovering Gowda.
With the race pace settling by the second lap, it was Love who began putting down the hammer with a succession of quick sector times to start opening up a gap to Frost. Similarly, Kahia was also able to pull out a gap to Gowda after a series of solid sectors. Behind the leading group, it was a case of strong recovery drive for Martono who was able to capitalise on his race pace to make his way up the field.
Though there were reports of light drizzle at the mid-way point of the race, this did not affect the drivers significantly, evidenced by Love who was still stringing out a series of consistently quick laps to maintain the gap to Frost. That gap was however reduced when Frost began outpacing Love in a number of sectors towards the closing stages of the race, though the Aussie ace was able to respond to keep the lead through to the finish.
Behind them, drama would unfortunately unfold for Kahia on the final lap. Despite a stellar effort on his part, the Kiwi suffered another technical issue, forcing him to pull off to the side of the track on Turn 5, gifting third place to Gowda. A strong drive by Martono through the field saw the Indonesian recover to finish in fourth and earn the rookie win for the race. Finishing in P5 was Malaysia’s Adam Khalid (MAS, Car #5) who lost out on the fight for track position to Martono on the penultimate lap. Oman’s Khalid Al-Wahaibi (OMN, Car #8) finished P6 ahead of another Malaysian, Isyraf Danish (MAS, Car #19) and Mohamed Nalwalla (IND, Car #46).
Race 3 (Dry – 10.20a.m, 8 Laps)
Following a short break, the drivers were back in their cars for Race 3, the second scheduled for the day. With the grids determined by the drivers’ finishing positions from the previous race, the race also featured a reverse grid for the top half. That meant that Malaysia’s Adam Khalid would have the honour of starting from pole, ahead of Martono, Gowda, Frost and Race 2 winner, Love.
A clean start off the line by the drivers saw Martono gain the advantage, jumping into an early lead on the opening lap. The Indonesian did have the difficult job of holding on to the lead with five other drivers who remained close to him. Unfortunately, he was not able to hold on to the lead as the other drivers caught up to him. It was Gowda who would emerge as the benefactor, taking advantage of the situation to go into the race lead. Lapping quicker than the battling group, the young Indian was able to open up a healthy lead to pull away at the front.
Behind him the battle was intensifying between Frost, Love, Al-Wahaibi, Martono, Mohamed Nalwalla (IND, Car #46), with Kahia closing in rapidly to the group. With the drivers swapping positions, two standout moments saw Love move up into P2 and the recovering Martono regaining several positions to move up to P3 by lap 3, ahead of Al-Wahaibi and Frost. Kahia was also able to make up considerable ground moving himself up into contention for a top-5 finish.
In the latter half of the race, it was Love who would make his move, lapping quicker than Gowda to close in on the race lead with three laps remaining in the 8-lap race. The Australian did eventually close to within striking distance on the penultimate lap, eventually overtaking Gowda after an intense duel. Behind the top two, Martono was also able to pull away from the rest to ensure another strong third place finish, while Kahia had also made up significant ground to move himself up into P4 ahead of Frost at the chequered flag. Finishing in P6 was the young Omani driver, with Adam Khalid in P7 as the best placed Malaysian.
Race 4 (Dry – 2.10p.m, 10 Laps)
With the drivers’ second fastest laps from qualifying determining the starting grid for Race 4, it was Love who would start from pole with Frost alongside in P2. Occupying the second row on the grid was Malaysia’s Adam Khalid and Mohamed Nalwalla in third and fourth spot, ahead of Al-Wahaibi and Keanon Santoso (INA, Car #88) in fifth and sixth. The fourth row was an all-Malaysian affair with Eric Louis (MAS, Car #23) and Isyraf Danish (MAS, Car #19) in seventh and eighth, respectively.
A superb start from the Aussie ace saw the youngster quickly pull away from the rest of the field. That left the fight for position between Frost and Martono, the latter losing out on the start and having the monumental task of battling Frost for second position. Meanwhile, a struggling Adam Khalid had to battle mechanical gremlins that left him at the mercy of quicker rivals who managed to overtake him. With other on-track scraps up and down the order, the two main duels involved Nalwalla and Kahia battling for fourth; Al-Wahaibi, Isyraf, Gowda and Santoso for track position.
With all eyes on Frost and Martono, it did not take long before the Indonesian got close enough to challenge Frost, at times with the pair side-by-side into several corners. Though Frost did manage defend his position for several laps, the Indonesian ace did eventually prevail taking second place at the mid-way point of the race.
Behind them, a stellar drive by Kahia had seen the Kiwi close in on Nalwalla, eventually taking P4 from the Indian. With Kahia away, the next battle that ensued was an all-Indian affair as Gowda began closing in on his compatriot in the latter stages of the 10-lap race, eventually taking fifth position on the penultimate lap.
In the end, it was Love who would gallop home with his third consecutive win of the day, his fourth thus far, finishing well ahead of Martono and Frost in second and third, respectively. Kahia finished in P4 ahead of Gowda in P5 and Nalwalla in P6. Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish was the best of the Malaysian drivers, finishing in P7.
Race 5 (Dry – 5.00p.m, 8 Laps)
With grid positions determined by the drivers’ fastest lap times from Race 4, the fifth race of the weekend on Friday evening saw Love on pole position, ahead of Frost, Martono, Kahia, Gowda and Isyraf Danish in second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth on the grid, respectively.
After a strong start by the top five drivers, this time it would not be so easy for Love to pull away, with Danial keeping the Aussie well within his sights. Also capitalising on his start was Kiwi Kahia who managed to keep pace with the leading group. Pacing faster than Martono, it did not take the Kiwi long before he made his move on the Indonesian for third at the end of the first lap.
By the second lap, the top three were already pulling away from the field with the battle for the fourth position with Martono having to defend against Gowda. That fight quickly became a three-way fight when Adam Khalid also caught up to join the fray. That then became a fight for the final podium spot when Frost – who had been following Love in P2, made a costly mistake that saw him spin and drop down the order, leaving Kahia to inherit the position.
What had been a three-way fight for third then became a duel between Martono and Gowda when Adam Khalid was forced to serve a penalty following a start procedure infringement. That duel would last through to the end as the pair slugged it out over the course of the latter half of the 8-lap race. Up front, the race win was virtually in Love’s hand as the youngster cruised to claim his fourth straight win. Finishing in second was a delighted Kahia who had been struggling with mechanical issues in the previous races. Martono claimed third after successfully defending against Gowda, with the Indian settling for fourth. After being forced into a recovery drive mode, it was Frost who took fifth ahead of Isyraf Danish.
Selected Driver Comments
Jordan Love (AUS, Car #79), Pole position, Winner Race 2 / Winner
Race 3 / Winner Race 4 “Race 2 was a really interesting race! I had a good start though I did come under a little bit of pressure with Danial (Frost) behind me but I just wanted to run my own race and focus on putting together consistent laps. It was a bit tough as the track was still damp and we were on slicks, which meant I had to really focus.
“That was a fun Race 3! I had an OK start from P5 as the grid was reversed for this race. The plan was to try and keep as close as possible to the leaders, but then some of the drivers hit a wet patch on Turns 5 and 6, which did hurt us a bit. After that point though, I just focused and had to work really hard to make up ground. With five laps to go, I was able to close in on the guys in front of me and moved up to P2. After that it was a matter of chasing Akash (Gowda) before managing to overtake him. I’m really pleased with this!
“Our focus for Race 4 was more about pushing as hard as I could right from the start, knowing that the next race would be determined from the fastest lap from this race. So I just kept my focus and pushed hard in the first three or four laps and keeping it consistent throughout.
“Really happy to come away from today with a clean sweep, to add to the race I won yesterday. It was a good race with Danial challenging me from the start in Race 5, but then I think he made a mistake, which gave me the chance to just focus on keeping the pace consistent through to finish.”
Danial Frost (SIN, Car #66), P2 Race 2 / P3 Race 4 “Truthfully, I am quite happy with second position today as I had a really good start off the line and managed to over a few cars. I even had the pace to almost challenge Jordan (Love) but he was quick! I did manage to pick the pace up towards the end of the race, and that is encouraging, as I know that I have the pace to match and catch Jordan.
“I had a really good start in Race 4 and managed to gain a position. But after that, I had a really tough fight with Presley (Martono), who pushed me throughout. I tried to defend the position, but he managed to overtake me on lap 4. I need to definitely work for the next race!”
Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33), P3 Race 2 / P2 Race 3 “I had a really bad start and really lost quite a bit of ground. Despite that, I was able to settle into the pace, managed to adapt and stayed with Faine (Kahia). After that my focus was to stay as consistent as possible with my pace. Towards the end, I saw Faine had troubles with his car and I was able to pass to take third place. I am happy with this result but know that there is a still a lot of ground for me to make up.
“I had a really good start in Race 3 and was able to move up to P2 into the first corner. On Turn 5 I managed to overtake Presley (Martono) for the lead and just worked on pulling out as much of a gap as I could. But with five laps to go, I could see Jordan (Love) was already closing in on me and on the final lap, he managed to get past me. It could have been better but I will take this result.”
Presley Martono (INA, Car #32), P4 Race 2, Rookie Winner / P2 Race
4, Rookie Winner / P3 Race 5, Rookie Winner “That was a bad first lap for me as I made a mistake, this after an OK start. I spun out and dropped back and had it all to do to get back up and catch the guys ahead of me. I know I have the pace, so now I’ll focus on the next race.
“Race 3 was a more difficult one for me, though I am quite pleased with another podium finish, of course. I did manage to take the lead but unfortunately could not hold on to it and Akash was able to get past me. Then I made a mistake and fell backwards and had it all to do. After a while, I shifted the strategy and focused on trying to regain as many positions as possible.
“I did not manage to have a good start for Race 4 and lost a position to Danial, who was much quicker off the line. After that, my focus was on making sure that first, I stayed close and then push as hard as I could to try and overtake him. He defended really well, but I finally managed to overtake Danial on the main straight.
“I am really happy to finish on the podium, especially after the tough fight with Akash (Gowda) in Race 5. My strategy was to defend as best as I could and still keep it on the limit. And, I did enough to hold on to P3.”
Faine Kahia (NZL, Car #55), P2 Race 5 “I am absolutely thrilled to be up here on the podium after what has been an incredibly difficult weekend for me. We had to do a lot of work to get to this point. It was hard in that respect and also hard in the race, as I really had to push hard from the back. In some ways I am really relieved and exhausted! I am really happy with the end result.”
The final day on Saturday will see the sixth and final scheduled race in the morning with another Star Driver award trophy up for grabs for the most successful driver from the weekend. With the overall event champion scored on a reverse to the F4/SEA championship points, drivers aim to score the lowest points to be in the running for the coveted trophy on following the race.