Jaafar and Harvey raise title challenge as Sainz Jr falters
Jazeman Jaafar and Jack Harvey cut Carlos Sainz Jr’s British F3 series lead to ribbons thanks to a pair of wins at Rockingham Motor Speedway over the weekend.
While mostly grey, the expected poor weather did not arrive over the quad-oval, allowing the drivers to circulate with few issues.
It was not all easy though. High winds made their presence felt occasionally as did Rockingham’s notoriously slippy surface – an element partially born from the venue's relative lack of use.
Come qualifying, Harvey made the moves, claiming a double-pole, just ahead of Fortec’s Alex Lynn. Jaafar and Sainz Jr would take the second row for both events.
Jaafar claimed a stellar victory despite the best efforts of Lynn and Felix Serralles. The Carlin racer jumped into the lead from 3rd when front row pairing Harvey and Lynn bogged down on the line.
Lynn recovered from his poor start – helped somewhat by Harvey blocking an emerging pack – to find himself back in 2nd and fighting off Fortec teammates Serralles and Hannes van Asseldonk. The front three would pull away from van Asseldonk; the leaders – pushing throughout- would rarely be covered by more than three seconds.
Each lap around, Jaafar, Lynn and Serralles measured the gap to each other – occasionally pulling slightly away or being drawn in, yet with every tour the chances of a move up the order became less and less likely.
Ever calm, Jaafar held the gap out front, eventually winning by 2.1 seconds – adding to recent successes at Pau and Brands Hatch. Unable to force the issue, Lynn brought his Mercedes-powered Fortec home in the runner-up spot, albeit with a gap of only six-tenths over Serralles.
Van Asseldonk assumed 4th, although the Dutch pilot came close to losing the place to Harvey at the line. Carlin racer Pietro Fantin enjoyed a rather uneventful drive to 6th – the Brazilian was neither close to Harvey, nor too threatened from behind.
A stunning start by Harry Tincknell saw him climb from the final row to 8th place by turn one. That became 7th on lap two with a move on Fahmi Ilyas; however the Essex racer was unable to progress further.
Ilyas’ race would go from bad to worse. Demoted by Tincknell, the Malaysian lost his front wing the next time by, dropping him a lap behind the field. It wasn’t the end of the action for Ilyas – the Double R driver hit the rear of T-Sport’s Nick McBride while trying to unlap himself, resulting in his retirement.
Sainz Jr finished 8th on the road; however the Spaniard picked up a post-race penalty for exceeding the track limits at turn seven, demoting him to 9th. It brought Pipo Derani above Sainz Jr, gifting the Fortec racer pole position for race two in the process.
Like Sainz Jr, McBride crossed the line in 10th, only to be dropped to 12th when received a penalty for the same infraction. As a result, Spike Goddard rounded out the top ten – securing the National Class win as well – but only just, as the T-Sport man edged rival Duvashen Padayachee over the line by six-tenths.
Geoff Uhrhane’s race ended after four laps when an inattentive Pipo Derani callously punted the Double R man off the road at Chapman’s.
A jubilant Tincknell grabbed his first British F3 of 2012 in race two thanks to a stellar driver on Sunday morning. Tincknell’s Carlin teammate Fantin took the runner-up prize, while Harvey came home 3rd to make it a Carlin 1-2-3 at the end of 15 laps.
The second-season driver shot passed poleman McBride* off the line, settling into an early – if narrow – lead from Fantin, who also benefitted from sluggish opening lap by the pole sitter. The gap between the leading pair rarely extended beyond one-and-a-half seconds, yet Tincknell at no point appeared fussed by the presence of his Brazilian teammate.
And Fantin was pushing – each time he reduced the gap, Tincknell responded in kind. It mattered little for the Essex native, who eventually took the win by six-tenths of-a-second.
A rather lonely Harvey filled out the podium places. The Lincolnshire man skipped by McBride on the fifth lap but never looked likely to catch the Tincknell / Fantin fight.
Meanwhile, McBride continued to fall backward, eventually ending up in 9th. The T-Sport racer would soon lose out to Serralles, van Asseldonk, Jaafar, Lynn and Derani.
Serralles claimed 4th – another solid result for the Puerto Rican, helped somewhat by an early move on teammate van Asseldonk. The Dutchman fell back toward the pack as the race aged, but not far enough for Jaafar or Lynn to take advantage.
Derani assumed 8th with McBride in his mirrors, while Ilyas rounded out the top ten, despite clouting Sainz Jr four laps in, dropping the Spaniard to 13th – the kerfuffle would promote Uhrhane up to 11th.
Sainz Jr claimed a spot from Padayachee at the midpoint; however it is unlikely to have troubled Padayachee too much, who won the National Class irrespective.
The pre-race grid formation resembled some odd form of chaos. Penalties from race one were still being appealed as cars lined up on the grid, meaning original poleman Derani was dropped to 9th.
Sainz Jr was then awarded pole, only to have it taken away from his moments later when his race one penalty was confirmed, promoting McBride – who was punted by Derani the previous day – to the top spot. It resulted in a situation of several cars being wheeled up and down the grid, ensuring the race began 15 minutes late.
Harvey claimed his second British Formula 3 win of the season, lifting the Lincolnshire man to 2nd in the title race behind teammate Jaafar. Lynn rounded out a very good weekend with a strong to 2nd, three seconds up on Sainz Jr.
Unlike the weekend’s opening race, this occasion saw Harvey pull away neatly and cleanly from the grid while the pack behind fought to lead the chase. On fresh tyres, Harvey displayed superb pace, all the while consistently drawing away from Lynn – until the safety car appeared…
It was a poor end to the day for Tincknell, whose race ended when Ilyas punted him hard in the rear, bringing Ilyas’ weekend accident total to four. Goddard and Uhrhane also clashed on the opening lap, although Uhrhane continued following a lengthy pitstop – the Australian would finish two laps behind come the chequered flag. Goddard did return to the pits, only to climb out of his battered T-Sport machine. The respective clashes brought a two-lap safety car period.
While Harvey disappeared Lynn spent several laps fighting off Sainz Jr, until the pace fell away for the latter. Not that they weren’t pushing, but this was one day when no one was moving up the order.
Jaafar’s impressive run continued with a solid drive to 4th, ensuring the Malaysian left Rockingham with a series lead of 13 points.
Van Asseldonk and Serralles shadowed Jaafar until the flag, but neither could take advantage, while Derani ended up being one of the race’s few movers thanks to a lap five pass on Ilyas for 7th place. From there the field was static, with Ilyas piloting his Double R machine home in 8th, followed by Fantin and McBride.
Goddard’s retirement made life very easy for National Class rival Padayachee. The rookie brought his Mugen-Honda-powered Double R home in 11th ensuring Goddard’s lead over Padayachee has now been sliced to 16 points.
2012 British F3 Series points standings (Rd 4) International Class
1. Jazeman Jaafar 137
2. Jack Harvey 124
3. Carlos Sainz Jr 118
4. Felix Serralles 101
5. Alex Lynn 98
6. Harry Tincknell 72
7. Pietro Fantin 72
8. Pipo Derani 71
9. Hannes van Asseldonk 52
10. Nick McBride 28
1. Spike Goddard 176
2. Duvashen Padayachee 160
Watch British F3 coverage on Motors TV throughout 2012
Leigh O'Gorman covers British F3 from the trackside. More of his work can be found at The Motorsport Archive.
Published 11/06/2012 14:43
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As the noise settled down, colleagues, well-wishers and friends moved from the podium, while Leicestershire skies began to rain down.
It’s a rather unusual sound to bear in the immediate aftermath of a race and not the most welcome. Not welcome at all in fact.