Jazeman Jaafar topped the final day of British Formula 3 pre-season testing at a warm and sunny Oulton Park on Wednesday.
The Malaysian took his Volkswagen-powered Carlin to the head of the timesheets during the morning, with a best of 1:28.451 – a time that proved to be unbeatable as the day progressed.
Not only did Jaafar prove to be fastest, the 19-year-old enjoyed a gap of a quarter-of-a-second over nearest rival and teammate Harry Tincknell, giving the third year driver a significant boost as the season closes in.
“Putting in the quickest lap of the day was a great way to finish up pre-season testing and I was pleased to have got the best from my tyres. I didn’t put new tyres on for the afternoon session as many other drivers did, but still finished up fourth quickest, so we’re looking good.
“From the first test to this one, we’ve learnt a tremendous amount and have got to grips with the car, understanding more about its handling characteristics each time we’ve hit the track and today we’ve been able to fine tune our set up and plan for the first race weekend.”
Jaafar also delighted in the consistent running of his new F312, which allowed him to log 67 laps throughout the session.
“We’ve put plenty of mileage on the car as well, but it’s never enough and I’m sure we’ll continue to learn and improve throughout the season.”
Like Jaafar, Tincknell enjoyed his fast run in the morning. The Exeter native narrowly pipped Jack Harvey and Carlos Sainz Jr to the 2nd spot, cementing an all-Carlin top four as the day drew to a close.
Although Harvey set a fastest time in the morning, the Briton came close to matching that later in the day on ageing Cooper tyres; however a slight error during his quick lap ruined any chance of an improvement.
“We’ve had a really productive final two tests at Silverstone and Oulton Park. We had a few problems with the car at both tests but these were quickly rectified and at the end of the day that is what testing is for. It’s clear we’ve got a really strong car this year and I’m very happy with how things have gone at all four tests.
“Looking back, we’ve been consistently in the top three at all of the tests and we’re in a great position heading into the first round of the Championship next week. Our expectations remain high and we will be aiming for pole position and race wins at Oulton Park to kick start our Championship fight.”
Unfortunately Sainz Jr was unable to extract the most from his session, following an early afternoon smash that left him garage-bound for much of the duration.
Sainz Jr’s accident came not long after Pietro Fantin wiped out his left rear section on the barriers at Old Hall corner. As the chequered flag flew, Fantin assumed 6th spot, a good 0.754 seconds off the lead.
Fortec-Mercedes racer Alex Lynn sneaked in between Sainz Jr and Fantin with a quick late afternoon stint. The Formula Renault UK champion registered several laps in the ‘1:29’s’, but it was not until his penultimate tour, that Lynn broke that barrier, setting a quickest lap of 1:28.981 to claim 5th.
Felix Serralles and Hannes van Asseldonk made it two more Fortec cars in 7th and 8th, albeit half-second off the impressive Lynn. Pipo Derani closed out the top ten with an effort a further half-second adrift of van Asseldonk.
It has been rumoured that extra packaging around Fortec’s Mercedes engine may have restricted their ability to run at full pace; however there has been yet to be an official confirmation of this.
Fahmi Ilyas penetrated the Fortec gaggle in 9th with his Mercedes-powered Double R machine, while T-Sport’s Nick McBride ended the day the last of the International Class in 12th position, following a light accident prior to lunch.
McBride split the two Rookie Class competitors, Spike Goddard (T-Sport, 11th) and Duvashen Padayachee (Double R, 13th).
Goddard appears to be continuing with his pre-season programme with few issues; however the Australian managed only 5 laps in the morning, due to an accident.
It was a day of further progress for Padayachee, as he desperately attempts to make up lost time, having only tested a Formula 3 machine for the first time last week.
The opening round of the 2012 British Formula 3 Series takes place next week at Oulton Park, with qualifying on Friday April 6th, followed by all three races on Saturday April 7th.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time 1. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m28.451s 2. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m28.707s 3. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m28.784s 4. Carlos Sainz Jr Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m28.971s 5. Alex Lynn Fortec Motorsport Dallara-Mercedes 1m28.981s 6. Pietro Fantin Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m29.205s 7. Felix Serralles Fortec Motorsport Dallara-Mercedes 1m29.449s 8. Hannes van Asseldonk Fortec Motorsport Dallara-Mercedes 1m29.528s 9. Fahmi Ilyas Double R Racing Dallara-Mercedes 1m29.773s 10. Pipo Derani Fortec Motorsport Dallara-Mercedes 1m30.036s 11. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda 1m30.543s 12. Nick McBride T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 1m31.380s 13. Duvashen Padayachee Double R Racing Dallara-Mugen Honda 1m33.592s Italics = National Class