Sentul F4: Gowda wins Race 2, Nalwalla claims two podium finishes
Akash Gowda took victory in Race 2, while Mohammed Nalwalla doubled up after taking his maiden podium finish on Saturday, in the third round of Formula 4 SEA at Sentul.
In the lone practice on Friday, Nalwalla finished sixth with Gowda just behind at seventh, while in a wet qualifying Nalwalla was again sixth, with Gowda finishing eighth.
Meanwhile, up ahead, Faine Kahia managed to beat Danial Frost for Race 1 pole as local hero Presley Martono took third.
Battle among the Indians
The weather for the first race on Friday was still wet, posing a difficult challenge for the young drivers on a relatively new circuit for most.
In the end, Frost took a comfortable victory after overtaking Kahia, before he was forced to retire, with Martono fending off Isyraf Danish’s late challenge to end third.
Behind, the two Indian drivers battled hard for track position, both having managed to get themselves inside the top five.
After Gowda cleared Nalwalla early in the race, Nalwalla came back on the penultimate lap to snatch fourth pushing Gowda to fifth in a feisty battle under difficult condition.
Win for Gowda, maiden podium for Nalwalla
Drama ensued in the second race on Saturday, with leaders Martono and Frost colliding while battling for the win.
This resulted in Martono retiring while Frost was handed a penalty dropping him out of contention, leaving Kahia and Gowda fighting for the win.
The two battled hard with Kahia seemingly poised to claim victotry but a penalty for overtaking under the yellow flag meant he dropped out, as Gowda took his third win of the season.
"That was amazing! And to get a double for India with Mohamed also up on the podium with me is pretty cool," he said after the win.
"Even though it was a dry race in the morning, the track was still a bit damp after Friday’s downpour. The race itself was mostly about survival, about whoever makes the least amount of mistakes.
"I did see a few of the drivers make mistakes and I managed to take advantage of the situation and capitalise on it,” he added.
Behind, Danish was second in what became a race of survival, as further troubles in the field pushed Nalwalla up to third - his first-ever main podium of the season.
Top five for Gowda
In the third race of the weekend, Kahia took victory from Martono after the Kiwi driver survived safety car re-start to edge out his Indonesian rival comfortably.
Malaysia's Chia Wing Hoong claimed his maiden podium and also won the three-way battle involving Khalid Al-Wahaibi and Gowda - the trio separated by a mere 0.434s over the line.
With Gowda fifth, fellow countryman Nalwalla was forced to retire from the race after having started from the front-row.
Second podium for Nalwalla
For the final race on Saturday, Martono was finally able to beat Kahia in his home race by just 0.220s in wet conditions.
But it was drama behind with the battling trio of Keanon Santoso, Danish and Wing Hoong coming together on the final lap, with all three retiring immediately.
This allowed Nalwalla to take his second podium of the day, while Gowda finished a distant fourth behind his compatriot.
“I am really happy with third place in Race 2. I had a good start and was able to gain a lot of positions," he said after the second race.
"The race itself was about survival because the track conditions were really dusty and slippery. Thankfully I managed it and pulled it off in the end.
"It’s great to be up here with Akash. It’s nice to be able to represent the country up here. In Race 4, the conditions were really tricky. So, I am really happy to be on the podium again.
"I managed to keep the car on track and maintain my pace, which was the objective. I did not actually have a great start and lost quite a bit of ground but I managed to keep that car on track even though I had virtually no grip at the end," he added.
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Sentul F4: Gowda takes two podium finishes, Nalwalla gets double top five