30 July 2011

Podium high for Jazeman at Spa this weekend

A third place podium for Jazeman at Spa Francorchamps with the biggest grid of the season, with 29 drivers, was the high point of a challenging weekend for the young Malaysian driver. The Spa-Francorchamps race weekend combined the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series and the FIA F3 International Trophy, with Jaafar’s points tally from the Spa event putting him in sixth place in British F3 and seventh in the International Trophy. At one of the most demanding tracks, with weather conditions to match, Jaafar finished 16th on track in the second race, although he was later penalised for his part in race incidents, and 12th in the final race of the weekend.

The weekend preparations began with dry conditions for the first practice session and Jazeman quickly got to grips with the circuit to post sixth fastest lap time, but in the afternoon the weather changed and with heavy rain Jazeman and the rest of the British F3 field struggled to cope with the lack of grip and bad visibility. Jazeman ran well throughout the session, but a small mistake on his in-lap at the end of the session put the Carlin driver in the barriers. A precautionary trip to the local hospital followed, as Jaafar reported pain in his knee. Fortunately he was cleared to race the next day and was able to resume his weekend with the qualifying session.

Jazeman faced tricky damp conditions for the grid-setting half hour of running and with a track which changed from dry to wet and back to dry, it proved to be the timing of tyre changes which dictated lap times. Jazeman, along with the other Carlin drivers, wasn’t on the right tyres at the right time, so having run sixth quickest earlier in the session,  he was unlucky to have dropped  down by the end of the session, posting times to put him ninth for the start of the first race and 15th for the third race.

In wet conditions, a storming start by Jazeman for the first race put him up to third place at the end of the first lap, moving up six positions into a podium spot. Determined to be in front, he pushed hard and pressured Fortec’s William Buller from the start until the chequered flag.  His stunning performance gave him well deserved second place points for both the British F3 and FIA F3 International Trophy.

Jazeman said of his race, “It was great to be back on the podium again and score valuable points for both the British F3 and International Trophy. I had an amazing start and managed to avoid quite a bit of chaos to catapult my Carlin car into third place. We showed strong pace throughout the whole race as well as battling with Buller. It was a great feeling at the chequered flag after a great comeback from my crash yesterday.”

For the second race, with a semi-reverse grid, Jazeman started fifth. A first lap incident with Roberto Merhi and Rupert Svendsen-Cook, in which the Malaysian driver was unable to avoid contact with his rivals, put him to the tail of the field and over the remaining laps he powered on to finish 16th on the track. However the stewards deemed Jazeman to have caused the incident, dropping his results and penalising him 5 places for the race three grid.

“It was a harsh penalty”, said Jazeman. “I was battling wheel to wheel with Rupert and Roberto, and just got too close in the tow, then found myself without having any downforce, unable to brake enough to avoid contact. There was no way that any of the contact, with either Roberto or Rupert was intentional, it was unavoidable and just one of those racing incidents.  I apologised to Roberto (Merhi) and Rupert (Svendson-Cook) afterwards, but no-one is more disappointed about it than me, as I could have been in the points – it has definitely been a race to forget.”

The final race of the Spa weekend this morning saw Jazeman line up in 19th place. With a spirited start Jazeman had a quick getaway moving up five positions by the end of the first lap. He then moved up to 13th place on the next lap and with excellent pace was able to take 12th place from Svendsen-Cook, finishing in this position at the chequered flag.

Jazeman summed up his race saying, “It was always going to be a tough call to reach the points from 19th position, but I gave it my best shot. There was good pace in the car, but I just didn’t have enough laps to get into the top ten.”

Reflecting on his weekend Jazeman added, “It’s been a weekend of highs and lows for me. Standing on the podium is always a great feeling and I needed those points for both British F3 and the International Trophy, but my weekend went a bit downhill after that. I guess race 2 was a low point, with the close racing proving to be a little too close. I learned a lot from the mistakes I have made and will definitely bounce back stronger to the next few rounds. I also feel privileged to have been racing at the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.”

Jazeman returns to racing action next month, with the Zandvoort Masters in the Netherlands his next outing and the fourth round of the FIA F3 International Trophy.

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