Leading Malaysian international racing driver, Jazeman Jaafar, put in an outstanding performance at the third round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in Spa Francorchamps this weekend. A second place podium in the first race backed up Jazeman’s landmark win in Monaco last week. In the second race a technical infringement left Jazeman starting at the back of the grid, but a storming drive through the field to sixth place guaranteed Jazeman valuable points. He lies third in the Drivers Championship, just eight points off the leader.
Jazeman arrived in Spa on a well-deserved high after taking his first win in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in Monaco with Fortec Motorsports and he was determined to continue the momentum in Spa. After a rare mistake in the first practice session which sidelined the 22-year-old for most of the session, he bounced back and despite having had little running was inside the top ten times in the second session.
The PETRONAS Talent Development Programme driver proved he is a championship contender with third quickest lap in the qualifying session for the first race and lined up on the second row of the grid for the start. The Malaysian did not have the best of starts when the lights went out, but quickly set about making amends and after a safety car interlude he put the power down, overtaking Nicholas Latifi on lap six to take second place. Race leader Matthieu Vaxiviere had pulled away and Jazeman, although unable to overtake him closed the gap over the remaining laps. A second placed podium finish was a welcome reward for his efforts.
Qualifying for the second race was another close-run session and Jazeman was in the thick of the action, finishing fourth fastest driver at the chequered flag. Unfortunately Jazeman’s times were disallowed as his racecar was deemed to have infringed the technical regulations and he had to start from the back of the grid in 20th place.
Jazeman used his race experience to avoid the inevitable melee and incidents on the opening lap and with skillful driving had moved up to 12th place by the first sector of the first lap, in 10th position by the second sector and lying eighth as the field started the second lap. On the third lap he continued his impressive drive overtaking two more rivals to lie sixth. Making his mandatory pitstop a few laps later, Jazeman returned to the track and continued with a strong pace, maintaining position throughout the remainder of the race.
Jazeman said of the weekend, “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster really. I started the weekend with a bit of a low, bounced back and got back on top, then had a great race to stand on the podium for a second race in a row. After another great qualifying I felt I could hold on to my championship lead, but then my hopes were dashed with the news that I was having to start at the back. I really thought it would be impossible to get into the points from there, but I just got stuck in and used every opportunity I had to move up the field. It was a great feeling to go from 20th to 8th in one lap! I had a great car this weekend, so I had the pace to get back in the fight, but there were times out on track when I was so near the edge, it was exhilarating, exciting, adrenalin-fuelled racing.”
Jazeman will return to racing action later this month with the fourth round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series taking place from 13 – 14 June.