F4SEA Event 5 gets underway with Frost and Kahia on top on Day 1

F4SEA Event 5 gets underway with Frost and Kahia on top on Day 1

06.01.2017: After successfully completing two days of pre-event collective tests, the young drivers in the Formula 4 South East Asia (F4/SEA) Championship

After successfully completing two days of pre-event collective tests, the young drivers in the Formula 4 South East Asia (F4/SEA) Championship – certified by FIA kicked off the official proceedings for the fifth event of the season on Friday.



Held at the 4.554km Buriram United International Circuit in Thailand, the day had kicked off on Friday with free Practice and qualifying in the morning with two races in the afternoon.



The morning session witnessed New Zealand’s Faine Kahia (NZL, Car #55) who edged the field during the practice, but it was Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish (MAS, Car #19) who stole the limelight in qualifying. The Malaysian youngster was on an impressive form being the only driver to clock a time under the 1:42 minute mark with the quickest time in the session en route to a pole position.



The first race would however belong to Singapore’s Danial Frost (SIN, Car #66) who took the honours in the morning’s Race 1, while it was Kahia who made an emphatic Comeback after being denied the win in Race 1 to emerge victorious in the late afternoon’s Race 2.




Saturday will see three more races contested with the final two scheduled for the weekend billed for Sunday morning.





Free Practice and Qualifying (Dry)
08:30hours, Friday, 6 January 2017
11:30hours, Friday, 6 January 2017
 


It was the Kiwi Kahia who topped the time sheets at Friday morning’s 30 minute free practice session after setting a quick time of 1:42.100s. With a best effort of 1:42.239s, second fastest in the session was India’s Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33) ahead of home favourite Worawong Komarakul (THA, Car #7) who managed an impressive effort with 1:42.306s.



Having been on the pace with the frontrunners throughout the collective test, Malaysia’s Isyraf Danish was fourth fastest in the session ahead of Indonesia’s Presley Martono (INA, Car #32).



The Malaysian teenager would however provide all the thrills in the mid-morning qualifying session when he smashed the 1minute 42second mark with a blistering lap time of 1:41.806s to claim a pole position start for Race 1 later in the afternoon. Second fastest was the Kiwi Kahia with his best effort of 1:42.285s just ahead of Frost with his time of 1:42.298s.



Fourth quickest was Gowda (1:42.424s) ahead of Martono (1:42.549s) and F4/SEA debutant Daniel Hibbitt (CHN, Car #25) who despite struggles in practice managed to clock in with an impressive 1:42.588s.






Race 1 (13 Laps, Dry)
13:50hours, Friday, 6 January 2017

 


The first of seven races for the weekend was held in the early afternoon and it was an exciting affair right from the start. A strong start from Kahia saw the Kiwi manage to take the race lead from pole-sitter Isyraf Danish.



Though the Malaysian did attempt a fightback, a mistake by the teenager saw him lose ground dropping him back and into the clutches of two battling groups involving Frost and Martono, as well as Komarakul, Khalid Al-Wahaibi (OMN, Car #8) and Gowda. It was a battle that saw the Malaysian lose a lot of ground, dropping him back to fifth.




By the third lap, the leading two drivers had managed to pull away from the pack, leaving the battle for third between Martono, Gowda and Al-Wahaibi. Meanwhile, a racing incident between Isyraf Danish and Komarakul saw both drivers drop away from the top-five battle.



The battle for third would prove to be an intense affair as Martono had to fight hard to defend the position with Gowda and Al-Wahaibi challenging him every step of the way. That allowed the top two drivers to pull away from the field, leaving the bulk of the attention on the battle for P3.



Despite the pair of Martono and Gowda trading position on track as the Indian attempted to overtake, it was Martono who held his nerve, holding on to third. That brought Al-Wahaibi into the mix, as he too would begin challenging Gowda for fourth.



That quickly became a four-way fight with Eric Louis (MAS, Car #23) and Kane Shepherd (THA, Car #34) also joining the fight. An unfortunate error by Gowda saw the youngster lose the position to Al-Wahaibi, with the Indian having to defend P5 from a charging Eric Louis by the closing laps.



With the majority of the drivers’ track positions remaining unchanged towards the end, it was the Kiwi who would claim the race victory ahead of Frost with a comfortable lead of over two seconds. Taking home third was Martono, ahead of Al-Wahaibi and Shepherd. Gowda would have to settle for sixth with the two Malaysians Eric Louis and Isyraf Danish in seventh and eighth, respectively.



However, in a post-race stewards inquiry, a number of drivers received penalties for infringements during the race. That included race winner Kahia, whose penalty gifted the win to Frost. Kahia was classified in P2.





Race 2 (11 Laps, Dry)
17:00hours, Friday, 6 January 2017

 


With the day’s second race later that afternoon determined by the drivers’ fastest lap times from Race 1, Kahia started from pole position with Frost alongside the Kiwi on the front row. Occupying the second row from P3 on the grid was Oman’s Al-Wahaibi and Komarakul in P4.




As the lights went out, it was the top two drivers who were able to get the most out of the start to pull away from the rest of the field. As a result, that left the bulk of the battles for third spot between a huge field that included Al-Wahaibi, Eric Louis, Komarakul, Martono, Gowda, Hibbitt and Isyraf Danish.



As the frenzy of the opening laps began to settle, the closely-bunched field behind Kahia and Frost would spread out with separate duels developing including those involving Komarakul, Martono and Gowda for P5, Hibbitt and Isyraf Danish for P8.



With Kahia and Frost comfortably ahead, strong stints in the opening laps by Al- Wahaibi and Eric Louis saw the pair also begin to pull away from the rest of the competition, both running in P3 and P4, respectively.



Behind the top four, an epic duel began developing between Komarakul and Martono for P5 with the Indonesian eventually prevailing. The Thai would however have an unfortunate outing when he went off only to rejoin way down the order.



Also having a strong run was Isyraf Danish who managed to overtake Hibbitt for P8. The Malaysian youngster would up the ante towards the latter half of the 11-lap race when he began closing in on Martono to challenge for P5.



 A brilliantly timed move would see Isyraf Danish take the position from Martono, dropping the Indonesian to contend with the challenge from a resurgent Gowda. Also trying hard to make up lost ground was Komarakul who managed to also gain positions in the latter stages.



With the top five drivers comfortably ahead, all eyes were on the last gasp battle between Martono and Gowda for P6, with the Indonesian desperately defending the position all the way through to the flag.



At the front, an emphatic drive by Kahia after the disappointment in Race 1 would see the Kiwi claim victory ahead of Frost in P2 and Al-Wahaibi in a well-deserved and strong drive to come home in P3. Finishing just outside of the podium was Malaysia’s Eric Louis in P4, with fellow compatriot Isyraf Danish in P5.



Holding on to P6 was Martono after successfully fending off the challenge from Gowda, who would settle for P7.




  Peter Thompson - Farah Aziz - photos F4SEA

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/f4sea-event5-thailand-buriram-frost-kahia-top-day-1---159449.html

06.01.2017 / MaP

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