Jaafar was consistently strong in the practice sessions ahead of the weekend’s racing and he continued the momentum into the qualifying session, putting in fifth quickest lap to line up in this position for the third race. His second quickest lap of the session was third fastest of the field, giving him third on the grid for the start of the first race.
With Carlin team mates Jack Harvey on pole and Harry Tincknell in second place, Jazeman was in good company at the front of the pack. When the lights went out for the start of the race the young Malaysian was quickly off the line, squeezing between Harvey and Tincknell as they raced down to the first corner, taking second position from Tincknell as they exited the corner.
The PETRONAS-supported driver held position as the race settled down, with his times dropping as the laps unfolded. Harry Tincknell, behind in third was chased down by Carlos Sainz Jr, eventually conceding the place to him. Jaafar was ahead and soon Sainz Jr was chasing him down, but with evenly matched pace Jaafar was able to hold position until the chequered flag.
“Having a good start was the key to securing a podium spot, “said Jaafar as he collected his second place trophy. “I knew I’d need to make up position as early in the race as possible as this is a long track and cars quickly lose touch with each other. Having grabbed second on the first corner I was determined to keep it and focused on consistently smooth, fast laps. I pulled out a gap from Harry (Tincknell), but when Carlos (Sainz) passed him he started closing up to me. I was able to match his pace though, so he didn’t get too close before the end of the race.”
The reverse grid format for the second race of the weekend put Jaafar eleventh on the grid for the start. Jaafar quickly showed his prowess, moving up to eighth by the end of the first lap. Over the next five laps Jaafar carved his way through the field, running third after only five laps. With team mate Pietro Fantin ahead in second, Jaafar was keen to wrest the position off him, but a safety car period to retrieve a stranded car which left only one lap of green flag racing at the end, put paid to any chance he had to do this. Jaafar crossed the line in third, to take his second podium place in two races and at this early stage of the season, to lead the championship.
The third race, with forty minutes of racing, saw Jaafar line up in fifth place on the grid. The green flag flew and the race down to the corner was frenetic with plenty of jostling for position, with Jaafar remaining in fifth. A stalled car on the grid brought out the safety car before the lap had been completed and the field held position for the next few laps. Racing resumed and the field returned to full speed, with Jaafar, along with the majority of the field, maintaining position and in a fairly processional race, the closely matched paces of the drivers kept the order the same until the chequered flag.
Jaafar said after the races, “It’s been a great opening weekend for me, with two highlights. A second place in the first race was just the start I needed, but I enjoyed the second race even more as I rose to the challenge of making my way through the field having started eleventh due to the reverse grid format of this race, and moved up to third by the end of it. With a fifth place in the third to add more points to my tally I secured second place in the championship. It’s early days though and there’s a long way to go, but I’ll be back on track in just a week’s time and looking to continue with more points and podiums.”
The 2012 International British F3 Series continues next week with the second round of the championship taking place in Monza, Italy.