Hadrien David dominates F4 South East Asia Championship in Sepang

Nov 26,2023
  • R-ace GP talent takes clean sweep of Round 2 victories in Malaysia
  • Six drivers share podium spoils across triple-header weekend
  • Varied conditions test youngsters on FIA Grade I track

Sepang, Malaysia (November 26, 2023) – Talented French single-seater racer Hadrien David dominated the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship’s (F4SEA) first of two triple-header race weekends at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. The 19-year-old topped both qualifying sessions and won all three races with the R-ace GP team.

David, who has stepped back to F4 after finishing runner-up in the 2021 Formula Regional European Championship, is no stranger to Sepang. Back in 2019, as a 15-year-old, he contested eight races over two events at the former Malaysian Grand Prix venue in the previous era of F4 SEA – winning six of them. Once again, he proved supreme, not only in dry conditions but also on a very wet track in the final race.

Second-place finishes went to David’s R-ace GP team-mate, fellow Frenchman Raphaël Narac, impressive Chinese Taipei racer Enzo Yeh with Asia Racing Team, and PREMA’s British-Japanese Alpine Academy F1 junior driver Kean Nakamura-Berta, who was making his car racing debut. There was plenty of variety on the third step of the podium too, which featured Australian Jack Beeton backing up his pair of wins in the opening round at Zhuzhou for AGI Sport, and PREMA’s pair of Frenchwoman Doriane Pin and Latvian F4 debutant Tomass 
Štolcermanis. In the Rookie class, Yeh won twice, with Nakamura-Berta claiming honours in the final race.

Beeton’s third place in the opening race moved him into the championship lead over the absent Tiago Rodrigues. His consistency in following that up with a fifth and a fourth place finish means he heads into the coming weekend’s F4 SEA finale, also at Sepang, with a 12-point advantage over David.

Race 1
Saturday was a day of supremacy for Hadrien David. In qualifying, he very quickly got down to a pole position time that proved unmatchable for the rest. And in the first race, he made a superb start and controlled the event from start to finish.

David’s team-mate Raphaël Narac was also convincing in second place. The younger of the two Frenchmen lined up on the front row, but didn’t make quite as good a start as third qualifier Jack Beeton. The Australian launched an attack on the inside line into Turn 1, but somehow Narac held on through the opening sequence of the corners and from here on began to establish an R-ace GP one-two. Narac set fastest lap of the race on lap two as he trimmed the gap to David to under a second, before David began to pull away once more, finally taking the chequered flag four seconds in front of Narac.

Beeton clung on to the two Frenchmen ahead, and third place for the Australian elevated him into the championship lead.

Štolcermanis initially held fourth place, but ran wide at Turn 1 on the second lap, allowing Enzo Yeh and Kean Nakamura-Berta ahead. Yeh then impressively consolidated fourth place, with Nakamura-Berta and Štolcermanis next. This trio were also the top three in the Rookie class.

Doriane Pin held seventh but came under ever-increasing attack from Pinnacle Motorsport’s pairing of Indian Kai Daryanani and Liu Kaishun, the Hong Kong racer freed to close on the duo in front once Peter Bouzinelos spun out of their hectic early fight. Daryanani and Liu made it past Pin with three laps remaining for seventh and eighth, while BlackArts Racing’s Indian newcomer Arjun Chheda drew alongside the Frenchwoman to snatch ninth position at the finish line.

Race 2
When Doriane Pin lost ninth position on the run to the finish line of race one, her final placing of 10th had one spectacular benefit: with the top 10 reversed on the grid for race two, it gave her pole position. And she used this to great effect.

After the opening-lap jostling, Pin led Kai Daryanani by three and a half seconds, while Hadrien David was already up to third from 10th on the grid. On the next lap David moved past Daryanani into the runner-up spot, with Enzo Yeh following him through into third, but Pin set the fastest lap of the race and the gap was now six seconds to the leader. David had only begun to chisel small amounts out of Pin’s advantage when the safety car was called due to Fu Yuhao’s car being stranded on the grass after a collision with Peter Bouzinelos.

This allowed David onto Pin’s tail, and there was time for six more laps of racing when the green flags flew. For over two laps Pin held on, but finally David made his move at Turn 4. David went through into the lead, with Yeh again following suit to move up to second place.

There was more action behind. One lap after the safety car, Raphaël Narac made a bid to pass Daryanani for fourth, but there was contact at Turn 2. Both headed to the pits, and only Daryanani rejoined. This allowed Tomass 
Štolcermanis up to fourth, and he completed the Rookie podium behind Yeh and Pin. Jack Beeton was fifth, while Kean Nakamura-Berta was very slow away at the start but did a good job to recover from the back of the field to sixth.

Local Malaysian hero Alister Yoong (BlackArts Racing) finished seventh ahead of China’s Kevin Xiao Kunpeng (Asia Racing Team), Liu Kaishun and Australian Bouzinelos (AGI Sport), but these lower reaches of the top 10 were hit with penalties – Yoong and Xiao for starting infringements, and Bouzinelos for the Fu incident. Liu was therefore promoted to seventh ahead of Xiao, Chinese racer Wang Zhongwei (R&B Racing) and Yoong.

Race 3

Heavy rain meant a delayed start to the final race. And, despite the weather having eased, the action got under way behind the safety car owing to the wet track. Once again, Hadrien David had topped the Sunday morning qualifying session from team-mate Raphaël Narac, and the two Frenchmen led the field around behind the safety car for three laps.

Once the field was unleashed, Kean Nakamura-Berta was immediately on the move, grabbing second place straight away from Narac. There was another place lost by Narac too, with Tomass 
Štolcermanis – who had passed Doriane Pin at the green flag for fourth – getting ahead into third. But Arjun Chheda had come to grief at the restart, and the race was neutralised under the safety car once again while his car was recovered.

Nakamura-Berta was fantastically strong in the tight opening corners of the lap in the tricky conditions, and David was under pressure when the race resumed with time for four more laps of green-flag racing. However, David was very strong over the flowing turns that make up the rest of the Sepang circuit, and soon established the gap at over a second. But Nakamura-Berta never gave up, and set fastest lap on the final tour of the race to complete a fine debut weekend in car racing, just 0.896 seconds adrift of David.

tolcermanis ran a strong third all the way to the finish, but there was action behind. Jack Beeton had passed Pin for fifth after the mid-race safety car, and on the penultimate lap the Australian also demoted Narac to claim fourth spot. Pin finished sixth to complete the Rookie podium behind Nakamura-Berta and Štolcermanis.

Enzo Yeh emerged from an early battle with Alister Yoong to take seventh, and was closing on Narac and Pin by the finish. Behind Yoong, Kai Daryanani and Asia Racing Team’s Filipino Joaquín Garrido completed the top 10.