29 April 2013

Rookie podium a welcome reward after tough weekend

Jazeman Jaafar had a tough weekend in the second round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series (FR3.5) held at Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain. Challenging weather conditions combined with the young Malaysian’s inexperience of FR3.5 put him on the back foot at the start of the weekend, with an 18th place finish in the first race. Jazeman proved his commitment and fortitude with a strong recovery to drive from 23rd place on the grid to a 12th place finish, which scored him a third place rookie podium.

MOTORLAND-ROUND 1-WORLD SERIES RENAULT

Ahead of the race weekend all the drivers tested at the Motorland Aragon circuit, but Jazeman was disappointed not to find the pace he expected with his Carlin FR3.5 race car. He worked with his engineer to develop the set up, however a wet qualifying session added to the challenge, with Jazeman posting 21st quickest time to take this position for the first race. The PETRONAS Talent Programme driver struggled with his pace and tyres throughout the race, but improved on his grid position to finish 18th at the chequered flag.

Qualifying for the second race took place in torrential rain which caught Jazeman out, along with four other drivers, with the 20-year-old racer aquaplaning off track and stalling, so that he was unable to rejoin the track or post a lap time. This put him close to the back of the grid for the second race in 23rd place.  Jazeman’s team mate Carlos Huertas had good fortune when he optimised his track time to record the second fastest lap for a front row slot for the second race.

The rain continued to fall, so the race began in wet conditions, producing very limited visibility, particularly for the start with Jazeman on the 12th row back. However, he was undeterred and quickly started to make his way up through the field, making a series of well executed overtaking manoeuvres, as well as benefiting from other drivers mistakes. After 14 laps he had moved up to 12th place and third of the rookie drivers to pass the chequered flag to claim a rookie podium spot. Meanwhile Carlos had stolen the lead from pole sitter Norman Nato on the first lap to take a win for the Carlin team.  Jazeman lies fourth in the Rookie Drivers’ Championship and in 13th position overall after the first two events of the nine-round season.

Jazeman said after the weekend, “It was a tough weekend for me as I wasn’t able to extract the potential from the car. I struggled to get temperature into the tyres and didn’t really get on top of the car set up, which wasn’t helped by the difficult weather conditions. It is all a learning process for me and I’m racing in a super competitive series, so there will be weekends like this as I continue to gain experience and build up more mileage and understanding of the car.

“There are always positives to take away from racing and this weekend is no exception, as I gained more FR3.5 racing experience in the wet and had some good battles in the second race to gain quite a few places. I would also like to congratulate Carlos on a great win, well done team mate!”

The third round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series is the blue-riband event of the championship, a supporting race for the FIA Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, which takes place on the weekend of 24-26th May.

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