Filipinos bring up the ante

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MIKE POTENCIANO

MIKE POTENCIANO

(First of two parts)

With the world’s eyes aimed again at our country’s political leader, I am tempted to write about my own opinion on the matter. However, I will leave that for my FB wall and will concentrate on the other batch of Filipinos that are also keeping us in the radar of motor sports.

We had just celebrated the return of international formula racing with the Formula 4 Southeast Asian Championship last weekend at the Clark International Speedway. Our 2 countrymen that joined were champion karter Gabriel Cabrera Tayao and drift and custom king Angie Mead King.

The racing community expected much from the 2 drivers and they happily granted our requests with great drives that brought honor to our country. Let’s trace how they were able to do this under difficult circumstances.


Typhoon coming

The fifth strongest typhoon ever recorded worldwide, Typhoon Haima/Lawin, was heading straight for Clark during the weekend of the F4 SEA races. This gave all the 12 drivers from India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Oman, Indonesia and our own racers very anxious moments. The track was already tricky when it was dry with pools of rainwater on the 4.19 km track, it will be almost dangerous in a single seater.

The worst part was our 2 Car Porn Racing Team F4 drivers, Cabrera and King, never raced on formulas before this event. They had very limited experience with this new discipline and they were now going to do 6 races in hazardous, wet conditions! Even veteran drivers will be challenged to their limits in these situations.

Luckily, the qualifying heat and first race were all held at a dry track. Indonesia’s Presley Martono took pole with 1:54.412 and followed closely by India’s Mohammed Nalwalla and compatriot Akash Gowda. In less than a second, New Zealand’s Faine Kahia and Cabrera followed which promised a big fight for the weekend.

First day

The first race saw drama right away; the top 2 cars OF Martono and Malwalla jumped the start and were penalized immediately with a drive through penalty. This paved the way for Gowda to take the lead and win his first race of the series. He was followed by Khalid Al-Wahaibi of Oman and Malaysia’s Chia Wing Hoong in a very tight battle.

Cabrera had brake failure in the fifth lap and had to retire. This gave a depressing feeling to all the Filipino fans rooting for him. King finished his first race in eighth and achieved his goal to bring it home. Gabe had to change cars for the second race and all were praying hard that this would be a luckier car.

The rains started to fall during the second race and the excitement started when the red lights turned off. Pole position Gowda fell down to P8 after a very bad start and penalized driver Martono took the lead with Cabrera in second.

In the closing laps, Gowda climbed to third and challenged Cabrera for second. Martono had a huge lead when he had a spin in the penultimate lap. His lead diminished and the top 3 raced in very close formation with Gowda taking his second win of the day! Martono salvaged 2nd and Cabrera was over the moon after finishing third place.

Stormy second day

From zero to hero, Cabrera was now the toast of the town and was eager to show that he can do more. The typhoon just landed last night and there were a lot of events in Metro Manila that were canceled on Sunday. Fortunately, the rains subsided and the officials decided to go on with the second day’s program.

By the time the third race started, the rains again fell in earnest. The F4 series had a unique rule that the grid positions will be based on the previous race’s fastest laps and the top half reversed. NZL’s Faine Kahia will now lead the field with MAS’ Hoong second and our own Cabrera in third.

Gabe made a lightning start and took the lead after a few turns. He was able to maintain the lead when the Safety Car came out due to the flooded track. After a few more laps, the race was stopped and Cabrera took his first win of the season! The other race favorites were caught out in the flooded track and this promoted Al-Wahaibi to second and Angie King to third place overall. It was a really good start in stormy conditions!
(To be continued)

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