Jaafar takes first blood in opening British F3 test

Carlin’s Jazeman Jaafar assumed the top spot in the first day of British Formula 3 testing at Snetterton yesterday.

The Malaysian spent much of the day in the ‘high 1:40’s – low 1:41s’, before upping his pace in the final stint, nailing his best of 1:40.096 on his third last lap.

Mixed conditions dictated the pace of the respective sessions, as early stints were conducted on a damp, but drying Norfolk track.

Jaafar registered 69 laps in the new Dallara F312 come the chequered flag – an impressive feat considering the relative newness of the 2012 machine*.

“It couldn’t have been a better start to pre-season testing for me. I thought we could be quick today and we were. To be fastest on the first day is a really good feeling. We have had a really productive day, putting plenty of mileage on the car and starting to learn about its characteristics.
“I’ve been working on all aspects of my race programme over the winter – fitness training, simulator work, preparations with my driving coach and engineers, as well as working closely with everyone at Carlin – and I feel that this has really paid off with the performance we had today.”

Indeed, it was an all-Carlin top five, as the Farnham squad took advantage of their shakedown test at Pembrey last week**.
Jack Harvey lined-up a quarter-of-a-second shy of Jaafar’s best following his 71-lap day, while Carlin new boy, Pietro Fantin secured 3rd overall in his first day’s official running with the team.

The fastest man following the damp morning running – Carlos Sainz Jr – fell to 4th as the day drew to a close. After enjoying a successful 2011 in the Formula Renault Eurocup Series, the Spaniard – part of Red Bull’s extensive junior programme – made an early mark at Snetterton, grabbing the initiative on a green and greasy surface with a best of 1:43.340. Sainz Jr sliced just under three seconds off of that, but it was not enough to hold the top spot.
Former Fortec racer Harry Tincknell rounded out the top five, with a quickest time a half-second off of Jaafar’s ultimate pace.

Mitchell Gilbert was the first of the non-Carlin runners in 6th. The Malaysian – who was present as an invitational driver – proved there was still solid pace in the Rookie Class machine. Gilbert logged 75 laps in the F308 chassis, before moving to European ground to compete in the German Formula 3 Championship.

Reigning Formula Renault UK champion, Alex Lynn, was the quickest Fortec racer on day one, heading off teammates Pipo Derani (8th, 74 laps), Felix Serralles (10th, 65 laps) and Hannes van Asseldonk (11th, 45 laps).
It was an impressive run of tours by the Fortec squad, whose cars had not run at all prior to yesterday’s green flag, with only a clutch problem stuttering van Asselbank’s programme.
Invitational driver, Richard Bradley, split the Fortec’s in 9th place when he set a quickest of 1:41.429 in Rookie Class machine, prepared by the Carlin squad.

In 12th was Hywel Lloyd – team boss at CF Racing. The Welshman registered 60 tours of the Snetterton venue in a hybrid-chassis F308; finishing seven-tenths clear of Nick McBride***.
Drivers from the invitational Performance Racing filled out 14th and 15th positions too, as Yannick Mettler and John Bryant-Meisner completed a brief number of miles. Rookie Class pilot Spike Goddard rounded out the field in his T-Sport F308 – the ex-Formula Ford driver completed an admirable 75 laps, while he beds himself into the formula.

* {note 1}
The new chassis remains the only “major” change to the 2012 Formula 3 regulations. Initially, Formula 3’s various international classes were also due to welcome new engine regulations this season; however following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council last September, the FIA postponed the new engine formula to 2013 at the earliest.
Last October, an invitation to tender for a uniform Formula 3 electronic control unit was announced.

** {note 2}
The F312 made its debut at Pembrey last week; when all five Carlin drivers took the Welsh track to shakedown their respective machines.
Also present at the test was ex-Formula 1 driver, Karun Chandhok, who tested Spike Goddard’s T-Sport’s F308 chassis. Chandhok’s run was a dual purpose outing – as well as testing the Rookie Class machine for T-Sport, the Indian pilot claimed some needed racing miles before heading to Sebring for the opening WEC round later this month.

*** {note 3}
McBride is spending the test driving T-Sport’s Rookie Class F308 chassis, but will move to International Class machinery next week, upon the arrival of his Nissan-powered F312.

Pos Driver                Team/Car                  Time       Gap      Laps
 1. Jazeman Jaafar        Carlin Dallara-VW         1m40.096s            69
 2. Jack Harvey           Carlin Dallara-VW         1m40.347s  + 0.251s  71
 3. Pietro Fantin         Carlin Dallara-VW         1m40.377s  + 0.281s  53
 4. Carlos Sainz Jr       Carlin Dallara-VW         1m40.476s  + 0.380s  61
 5. Harry Tincknell       Carlin Dallara-VW         1m40.569s  + 0.473s  74
 6. Mitchell Gilbert      Performance Dallara-VW    1m41.017s  + 0.921s  75
 7. Alex Lynn             Fortec Dallara-Merc       1m41.170s  + 1.074s  53
 8. Pipo Derani           Fortec Dallara-Merc       1m41.285s  + 1.189s  74
 9. Richard Bradley       Carlin Dallara-VW         1m41.429s  + 1.333s  43
10. Felix Serralles       Fortec Dallara-Merc       1m41.524s  + 1.428s  65
11. Hannes van Asseldonk  Fortec Dallara-Merc       1m42.132s  + 2.036s  45
12. Hywel Lloyd           CF Dallara-Mugen          1m42.689s  + 2.593s  60
13. Nick McBride          T-Sport Dallara-Mugen     1m43.344s  + 3.248s  88
14. Yannick Mettler       Performance Dallara-VW    1m43.347s  + 3.251s  44
15. John Bryant-Meisner   Performance Dallara-VW    1m43.973s  + 3.877s  14
16. Spike Goddard         T-Sport Dallara-Mugen     1m44.891s  + 4.795s  75
Italics = National Class

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