17 April 2011

Two podiums for Jazeman Jaafar in opening round of 2011 British F3 season

Jazeman Jaafar drove superbly to finish with two visits to the podium at the opening round of the 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series, held at Monza circuit in Italy this weekend.

Celebrating a second place finish in the first race, fifth place in the second and a third place in the final race of the weekend Jaafar’s strong performances have put him in second place overall in the Drivers Championship.

Jaafar started the weekend with sixth fastest lap in the free practice session ahead of qualifying. In the afternoon qualifying half-hour he improved to produce excellent results, a fifth place start for the opening race of the year, and a fourth position start for the third race.

The first race at the end of a busy day of practice and qualifying produced plenty of drama, even before the green flag waved for the start of the race. Six cars failed to make it to the grid in time, including the pole sitter and it was Jaafar who capitalised on this, blasting off the grid into the lead. Incidents behind the young Malaysian brought out the safety car and when racing resumed it was Jaafar’s team mate Kevin Magnussen who took the lead. Another safety car period slowed the field again with Jaafar running in fourth, until the two front runners tangled, promoting Felipe Nasr to first place, with Jaafar dicing with Carlos Huertas for second. Jaafar fended off his Carlin team mate in the closing stages to cross the line second, equalling his best result in British F3.

PETRONAS-backed Jaafar was back out on track today for the remaining two races in the opening round. With the top six reverse grid for the second race, Jaafar lined up in fifth position for the start and passed Huertas to move up into fourth. In the opening laps a hard-charging Nasr dropped Jaafar back to his start position and Jaafar then tracked fourth placed driver, Riki Christodoulou in the closing stages, finally crossing the line in fifth, a second strong points finish for the talented 18-year-old driver.

The final race of the weekend began with Jaafar lining up in fourth place for the start. A blinding start from the Malaysian driver catapulted him into the lead after the jostling of the front runners through the first turn. He held onto the lead in the early stages, but slipped back after a robust move on him by Lucas Foresti. Jaafar, driving his PETRONAS-liveried Carlin F3 car held position, but Nasr was again on a charge and with Jaafar not being able to match his Carlin team mate’s pace, he was pushed back into third. Despite frequent challenges from Huertas behind Jaafar defended well, crossing the finish line in third to take his second podium finish of the opening weekend in the ten round British F3 championship.

“It’s been an excellent start to the season for me,” said Jaafar at the end of the weekend. “Mixing it at the front is where I need to be every time out and we certainly managed to do that in Monza. We had a very strong weekend, and were solid right from the start. Carlin did a great job with the set up work and with this excellent team behind me we produced a string of good results.

Of course I want to win and we’re knocking on the door of the top step, but consistent strong points finishes are key, so I have to be patient and I didn’t want to take too many risks and jeopardise this in only the first event. I had to fight hard, so it was tough out there, but I reaped the rewards and just can’t wait for round two at Oulton Park.”

Jaafar will have little time to reflect on his Monza success as he now turns his attention to the second round of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series, which takes place at Oulton Park circuit in the UK next weekend.

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