Thai New Year challenge for F4/SEA young drivers at Chang Circuit

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With the inaugural season of the Formula 4 South East Asia (F4/SEA) Championship – certified by FIA, inching closer to its conclusion, the young drivers will head to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand in the New Year. After completing four of the six scheduled events, the Thai round from 6-8 January is the penultimate event before the season draws to a close back at the Sepang International Circuit at the end of January.

With seven races scheduled for the weekend, including a replacement race for the one cancelled due to the typhoon at Philippine event last October; the Thai event is the fifth installation in the championship’s first season. As part of the enhanced calendar, Event 5 at the Chang International Circuit is one of three international venues on to the championship calendar, following events at the Clark International Speedway in the Philippines last October and the Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia in November.

A new venue for the championship, the Thai leg of the F4/SEA championship is the drivers’ debut outing on the 4.554km long circuit. Located in the town of Buriram, 400km north east of the capital city of Bangkok, the FIA Grade 1 Chang International Circuit is a technically challenging clockwise circuit featuring 12 turns. The round will see the young drivers attempt to navigate the mix of fast and slow corners on top of the tricky sweeping right-hander final corner, Turn 12 that leads into the main straight.

Since opening its doors in 2014, the circuit already hosts major international, regional and domestic motor sport events, in addition to residing in the home of Thailand’s premier football team, Buriram United FC.

Peter Thompson, Chairman, Triple A, said,  “It’s unbelievable to think that we are already approaching our fifth event in the six-event inaugural calendar of the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship! The past four events – at Sepang in Malaysia, Clark in the Philippines, Sentul Indonesia and the most recent one at Sepang, have all been incredible with a lot of action in very challenging and variable conditions. To welcome 2017 with a race at another new venue is something we are all really looking forward to. The circuit itself is a magnificent one with very good facilities and a truly welcome addition to our calendar. More importantly, the addition of Thailand to the F4/SEA calendar is especially vital to our continued efforts to establish and continually develop a truly sustainable Asian motor sport eco-system.”

Firhat Mokhzani, Managing Director, Triple A, adds, “As always, coming to a new circuit is exciting, and coming here to Buriram is no exception. The track, while relatively amongst the newer circuits in the region, has already played host to a number of major motor sport events, a testament to its growing stature. It also bodes well for the continued growth of motor sports in the region. The track itself is a challenging one with a very interesting combination of fast sweeping corners, relatively long straights and tight slow turns. It will be interesting to see how the drivers adapt to the circuit.”

The event’s bumper schedule will be preceded by a pre-event collective test ahead of the race weekend’s programme, which will commence Friday, 6 January and conclude on Sunday, 8 January.

As with every event, a Star Driver award trophy will be up for grabs for the most successful driver from the weekend. With the overall event champion scored on a reverse to the F4/SEA championship points, drivers aim to score the lowest points to be in the running for the coveted trophy, presented after the sixth and final race on Sunday.

Additionally, the weekend will also see the participation of young local talents representing the host nation, Thailand. Flying the blue, red and white flag are Worawong Komarakul (THA, Car #7) and Kane Shepherd (THA, Car #34). The pair will also be joined by another debutant, Daniel Hibbitt from China (CHN, Car #25). The Thai leg of the F4/SEA championship at 4.554 km long Buriram United International Circuit will see the drivers tackle the 12-turn clockwise circuit with its mix of fast and slow corners. Additionally, the drivers will have to navigate the tricky sweeping right-hander final corner, Turn 12 that leads into the main straight.

Daniel Hibbitt (CHN, Car #25), said, “I am super happy to be here at Buriram for my debut race in the F4/SEA. Not only do I have to get to grips with the car, but also the circuit. One of the first things we did was do the trackwalk with the driver coaches, and I really like the look of the track. It has a nice flow and is not too difficult overall, except for the final corner, which does look a bit tricky.”

Worawong Komarakul (THA, Car #7), said, “I’m really excited about this event here at the Buriram United International Circuit. Seeing as our race is at our ‘home’ circuit, obviously there is a lot of pressure to be able to do the best we can. On the whole, I am really looking forward to race this weekend!”

Kane Shepherd (THA, Car #34), added, “To be able to fly the blue, red and white flag this weekend at the F4/SEA Thailand event is something I am very thrilled about. For sure, as a rookie driver, there is a lot of ground for me to make up especially against a more seasoned and experienced field. Nevertheless, I will do my best!”

Meanwhile, the top ten drivers earn FIA F4 championship points, which are aligned to follow the F1 points scoring system with the top seven championship drivers eligible to also earn valuable FIA Super License points at the end of the season.

The FIA single-operated F4/SEA championship – certified by FIA is one of 12 worldwide championships in the FIA’s F4 global format. F4/SEA is uniquely designed to help harness and develop Asia’s young motor sport talent through a cost-effective programme. The F4/SEA is the first step on the FIA’s streamlined ladder to developing professional careers in the sport.