TAUPO’S FAINE KAHIA HAS HIS EYES ON A RENAULT PARTNERSHIP, WRITES SIMON CHAPMAN
Taupo-born racing driver Faine Kahia made the best possible start to his fledging international career last weekend in Malaysia. The Maori racer topped every session of the Formula 4 Southeast Asia (F4SEA) pre-season test at the Sepang International Circuit.
Kahia flew to Sepang for two days of testing in a freshly built Renault-powered F4 car. He and 20 other drivers from around Asia and Australia tested on the circuit — the same circuit that plays host to the annual Malaysian Grand Prix.
Despite suffering fuel-surge issues throughout the test, Kahia set times nearly a second quicker than his nearest rivals.
With pre-season testing complete, Kahia has his eyes set on the forthcoming F4SEA series, begining early next month. With the series aligning itself to French manufacturer Renault, Kahia says there’s big potential to make an impression on the car maker.
“The plan is to run the full season,” said Kahia. “With the new partnership with Renault, there’s a huge career potentially there. But also the fact that it’s an FIA championship, there are super points to earn from this. With this Renault partnership there’s the opportunity to be a part of their development academy. So winning this F4 Championship is on my to-do list.”
Before making the trip to Malaysia, Kahia signed with the Giltrap Group — a name synonymous with Kiwi drivers succeeding all around the world.
Faine Kahia (right) pictured with current Renault Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer (centre), and fellow F4SEA driver ambassador Adam Khalid.
“Sometimes it’s not about the money someone gives you but the value of having a particular brand or person on board. Having the Giltrap Group on board has helped me big-time. It’s recognised all around the world and it adds a lot of value to me as a driver.”
Kahia says having his name alongside the likes of successful Kiwi drivers supported by the Giltrap Group is a privilege. “Having my name up with those guys is a huge honour. It’s so good to be a part of the Giltrap family of drivers, they don’t support just anybody.”
Kahia said he’s intent on building a career in Asia before achieving his ultimate goal of competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“I want to establish myself as a successful driver in Asia. As Earl Bamber did. He’s driven through Asia to get to where he is now. The path that Earl has gone through is a pathway that I want to go down. I’ve already started through Meritus GP who Earl Bamber actually ran with in 2007.”
The Formula 4 SEA Championship takes in five rounds in Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand. The championship plays a support role to the Formula 1 Grand Prix later this year, something Kahia says he and his mentor are looking forward to.
“Being on the Formula 1 support car is huge. One of my mentors is Graeme Watson who is the team manager of Toro Rosso, so he’s never seen me drive before. He knows how good I am, so I’d love to perform for him and show him my skills in person.”