Daniel Cao of China was the big winner in the opening round of the second FIA Formula 4 Southeast Asia Championship season but it was Malaysia’s Nazim Azman who stole the thunder at Sepang International Circuit yesterday.
Cao won three of the five races held over three days. He also finished second and fourth to be crowned event champion with nine points.
India’s Nayan Chatterjee was second with 17 points after finishing third in three races, second in one and sixth in the opening race.
Nazim, came of age yesterday as he won the fifth and final race of the weekend and finished third in Race Four to be third in the Event Championship with 19 points.
Formula 4 SEA consists of five events and the event champion points are calculated on lowest score with first taking one point, second earning two points and so on.
Pre-race favourite Danial Frost had a bad day, finishing last in Race 4 and Race 5 to place fifth overall with 23 points, four behind Thailand’s Kane Shepherd.
Shepherd was levelled on points with Nazim but didn’t win a race.
Sri Lanka’s Eshan Pieris (25), Indonesian Perdana Minang (36), Shivin Sirinarinthon of Thailand (38) and Irish lad Luke Thompson (39) rounded up the field.
“It was an emotional victory. We are one of the support races for the final Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix and to win on my home track was amazing,” said Nazim, who raised his fists to acknowledge the crowd as he was coming into the final straight.
“I couldn’t help it. I knew I had the race won and celebrated a little earlier than I should have.
“I’m so happy to have won my first race in F4 and even happier it happened in Malaysia.”
Nazim was trailing Shepherd for the first five laps before making a brave move on the first corner of the sixth lap, pressuring the Thai into making a mistake before sneaking ahead in the second corner.
Once in front, there was no catching Nazim as Shepherd was busy defending his position as Chatterjee and Cao were attacking relentlessly.
Nazim clocked 18:09.016s to claim top prize while Shepherd (18:10.825s) and Chatterjee (18:11.681s) completed the podium.
Earlier, Cao made it three wins as he led from start to finish in Race Four.
He timed 18:02.016s, followed by Chatterjee (18:03.066s) and Nazim (18:08.242s).
That victory had ensured him of the Event Championship title even before the final race but the 15-year-old said he was disappointed not to have been on the podium in the final race.
“My plan was to win or be on the podium for all the races. That was why I was attacking Chatterjee even though I had the title sewn up.
“I’m very happy to be the event champion. This victory has strengthened my resolve to claim the overall title.
“I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, especially the next round in the Philippines.”
Following the Malaysian leg, the Formula 4 Southeast Asia Championship will move to Clark International Speedway in the Philippines (Oct 20-22), Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia (Nov 24-26), Buriram International Circuit in Thailand (Jan 12-14) and the finale back in Sepang (Feb 9-11).