A strong fourth place finish in the qualifying race was the highlight of the weekend for Jazeman Jaafar, with the Malaysian driver and his team mate, Clemens Schmid suffering pitstop woes in the main race and a 19th place finish, in their #85 Mercedes AMG GT3 race car.
In the opening practice session the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 was 12th fastest, yet only six tenths of a second off the fastest lap of the session. In the second practice session Jazeman and Clemens improved to 10th quickest. In the first of the three qualifying segments the #85 car was 13th fastest and in the second, had improved to seventh fastest.
A great effort by Jazeman in the final segment of qualifying put the car third fastest, just 0.086 seconds from the pole time. The combined times of the three laps produced a third place start for the #85 Mercedes AMG GT3, just behind #86, one of the team’s sister cars.
The qualifying race was held on Sunday morning with the track and air temperatures both very high and unusually sunny conditions for the Brands Hatch round of the Series. The 37-car grid lined up for the start and when the green flag flew they all made it safely through the opening corners, but Jazeman was squeezed out to fourth place. On the tight, tricky Kent circuit Jazeman was unable to find a way back up and handed the car over to Clemens for the second half of the race. The #85 car remained in fourth until the chequered flag, posting a strong points finish for the team.
Clemens took the start for the main race, with a fourth place second row grid slot. The rolling start was an untidy formation and in the run down through the first corner of Paddock Hill Bend Clemens dropped a position to emerge in fifth place by the end of the lap. He maintained position until the mandatory pit stop, when he handed over the car to Jazeman. However, an air leak in the wheel gun caused a delayed stop for the #85 car and when Jazeman rejoined the track he was well down the order. Despite a string of quick laps he was only able to recover to 19th place by the end of the race.
Jazeman said of the weekend, “It was tough out there in every session, with a very competitive field of cars and a very busy track. Brands Hatch isn’t the easiest of tracks to overtake on, so there were limited opportunities in the races. Our fourth place finish was a good result for us, and it was great to see one of our sister cars on the podium in second place. We were unfortunate to have problems in the pitstop, but it was just unlucky for us. We have showed strong pace throughout the weekend and especially in qualifying, so we just have to stay focused and bounce back next time.”
Jazeman returns to racing action next weekend in the Blancpain Endurance Series second round, being held at Silverstone circuit in the UK.