Shihab on podium in final round of F4 SEA

Oman’s Shihab al Habsi (left) leads during the third race of the 2018 final round of the F4 South East Championship in Sepang, Malaysia, on Saturday

Shihab al Habsi, the 14 year old Omani  talent, had impressed earlier this season by posting quick lap times and displaying sensible race craft during the French F4 Junior Championship.

Following an encouraging conclusion to his maiden season in Europe, where he finished overall fourth, Shihab came up with another stellar performance on Saturday when he claimed a third-place in his category (private) in the final round of the Formula 4 South East Championship (F4 SEA), held at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

The F4 SEA is considered the first step for young drivers looking to reach Formula One. The championship is designed to transition 15-19 year old karters into formula racing, giving them the foundation they need to get into GT racing or F1.

Making his debut in the final race of the 24-race eight-event season, Shihab ended up behind Malthe Jakobsen (40) and Lucca Allen (26) with 15 points in his class. Alessandro Ghiretti of France won the overall top honours with 66 points while Thailand's Kane Shepherd was runner-up with 56 among the 14 drivers. There were a total of five racers in the private class.

Shihab took the third spot in qualifying for the final race and followed it up with a third place finish with a time of 21m:02.572 and the fastest lap recorded at 2m:36.199s. Jakobsen won the third race in a time of 20:46.926.

Earlier in race two, Shihab had also qualified third but a mechanical issue forced him out of the race, which was won by Shepherd in a time of 27:14.105.

The Omani lad had begun the first race on a slow note as he qualified eighth. He ended the race 12th with a time of 28:20.350. Ghiretti won the race in 27:07.431.

In the practice session, Shihab had displayed good speed to top in private class and overall third in a time of 2:16.554 with Ghiretti the fastest in a time of 2:14.940.

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