The weekend began with a second place finish for the Malaysian driver in the first race, behind Carlin team mate Harvey, which kept him in the lead of the championship at the end of Saturday, although the results closed the gap between the two drivers to just one point, with the other title contender, Felix Serralles, finishing fourth to lie in third place in the championship and still able to wrest the title from Carlin.
Cool and cloudy conditions welcomed the British F3 drivers for the penultimate race of the 2012 season this morning. Jaafar lined up in seventh position with Carlin team mate and title rival, Harvey alongside in eighth however, it was a shortlived race for Jaafar. The 19-year-old Malaysian had a storming start and was challenging Lynn for position, quickly passing him for sixth place. Lynn then tried to retake the position, taking a tight line into the next corner, but with a deflating tyre he locked up his wheels and then crashed into the Malaysian, with the PETRONAS car being tipped up onto two wheels and then spinning across the grass, ending Jaafar’s race.
He said after the race, “I am obviously disappointed to have been taken out in an incident which had such a big impact on my title fight, but reflecting on it, it was a racing incident and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alex had a puncture so it was an unavoidable incident; there was nothing he or I could do about it. It doesn’t make it any easier to stomach and I’m still feeling quite raw about it, but there’s no point in dwelling on it, I need to move on and focus on the final race.”
The third and final race of the season, with the Drivers’ Championship still undecided, began with Jaafar having another good start and snapping at the heels of second placed driver, Alex Lynn. Jaafar tried to make a move on Lynn but couldn’t find a way past on his first attempt. He continued to push for position, but Lynn held him at bay. In the meantime, championship rival, Harvey led the race and Serralles was in fifth place. As the race settled Lynn began to challenge Harvey for the lead, and Jaafar was close behind. The young Malaysian kept pushing throughout the 28 laps of the race, defending hard from his rivals behind, while also trying to push for second place. Meanwhile, Felix Serralles had moved out of contention for the title after dropping back to eighth place. After 40 minutes of hard racing Jaafar crossed the line in third place.
Of his final race of the season Jaafar said, “I had a good start but couldn’t get past Alex (Lynn) in the opening lap and was a bit cautious after what happened in the race this morning. Once the tyres came up to temperature I was able to close up on Alex, who was also closing up on Jack (Harvey) and it was a three-way battle; everyone was quick in that race and anyone could have won it. Jack hung on in there, Alex couldn’t quite catch him and I couldn’t quite get Alex, so we stayed in the same position throughout the race.”
Jaafar’s third place finish brought him second place in the Drivers’ Championship and he said of his success, “It’s been a hard-fought battle in the Drivers’ Championship and I’m really pleased to have finished just behind Jack. It’s been a tough season, full of ups and downs but that doesn’t stop me pushing right to the very end. I’ve enjoyed battling at the front throughout the season and being right on the pace every time I’ve been out on track. The championship wasn’t really decided until the last lap of the last race, so it really couldn’t have been any tighter. In the end I was only 13 points off Jack, I think it’s the closest finish since 1999!”
Jaafar adds, “Over the last three years since I’ve been racing in British F3 I’ve matured as a driver and honed my driving skills to be racing harder and getting the results I felt I was capable of achieving. It’s been an exciting journey and each season I’ve been improving. I was 12th in the championship in my first year, sixth last year and now second, so it’s been a great three years of F3.”
Jaafar will now turn his attentions to finalising plans for next season’s racing campaign. As an elite athlete he will continue to follow a strict fitness regime, including a winter programme of endurance activities.