Race Report – Round 9 (Race 1):
At Rockingham this afternoon Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) took his first “proper” win of the season, after a class win at Pau (where he was second on the road behind one of the Invitation Class runners) and a win in the Euro Series at Brands Hatch. The victory was achieved in impressive style, and although Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) and team-mate Felix Serralles were never far away in 2nd and 3rd respectively, they seemed to be too entangled with each other to worry about what was going on ahead of them, giving Jaafar a clear run to the finish. The National Class was won by Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport), though only after a race long battle with Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing).
It wasn’t supposed to be like that. Jack Harvey (Carlin Motorsport) was on pole and really could have been expected to win, especially as Jaafar only started from 3rd. However, when the gantry lights went out to signal the start of the race, Jaafar didn’t hesitate and made a blistering start to get away into the lead, squeezing out both Harvey (whose start was sluggish in the extreme) and Lynn, who didn’t get a look in, though he was able to draught past Harvey as well, towing Serralles and Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport) with him. That dropped Harvey to 5th but fortunately he was able to stop the rot right there.
Of the trio who started from the back after being penalized for not respecting the track limits (Carlos Sainz Jr for Carlin, Harry Tincknell for Carlin and Pipo Derani for Fortec Motorsport) it was Tincknell who seemed to be making the best recovery, having dived through to 8th, which became 7th when he outbraked Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing). Behind them Sainz Jr was also on the move, nipping down the inside of Nick McBride (T-Sport) at Turn 1 to nab 9th. He then barged Ilyas out of the way as well at Tarzan for 8th. That dropped Ilyas back into the clutches of McBride for what looked like a re-run of their Pau battle until Ilyas pulled into the pits with a damaged front wing, thus freeing up McBride to chase after Sainz.
Further back still Derani was failing to progress and a tangle with Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing) didn’t help him. It also didn’t help Uhrhane, who was the innocent party in the incident and didn’t deserve to be left stranded on the grass while Derani was able to continue on his merry way. There was a bit of marshal activity before it seemed everyone was happy that Uhrhane’s car was not in a dangerous position and the race would not need a Safety Car intervention.
At the front Jaafar was holding a gap to Lynn which, while it wasn’t building, was comfortable enough. It was now just under two seconds having been well over two seconds in the early stages, but Lynn was now being harassed by Serralles, the Puerto Rican all over the back of the Englishman, setting a new fastest lap of the race as he harried his team-mate round the tight turns of the Rockingham Motor Speedway. Just behind them Harvey was now catching van Asseldonk for 4th and looked like he wasn’t going to let up on the pressure any time soon.
That fastest lap was now disputed property though, and van Asseldonk’s response to Serralles attacking style was enough to make it his. He couldn’t afford to relax at all, because if one of his team-mates didn’t catch him, the other one would. It was a tough race for Lynn, but he was proving to be up to it.
Back in the pack, Sainz was suddenly losing ground to McBride after some sort of incident. The Spaniard had sustained front wing damage and the car was now proving somewhat recalcitrant, particularly in the corners. It was leading to some very strange lines, that was for sure. He certainly seemed to be struggling now to hold McBride off. Eventually McBride fell back again into the clutches of Ilyas and that’s when things started to get a bit messy. The pair tangled into Tarzan and were both off, Ilyas terminally this time. McBride would get going again, but he was a long way back by then.
Towards the sharp end, Jaafar was still proceeding imperiously towards the chequered flag, while in the pack Harvey tool a serious look at van Asseldonk, but the Dutchman wasn’t having any of that, thank you. He responded yet again, and the battle continued all the way to the flag. The National Class boys were having an interesting time too, as Derani had now caught them and was looking to get past. Padaychee neatly let the Brazilian through, and that left Goddard to pass. He too was clearly paying attention and Derani was through and clear, leaving the two of them free to continue scrapping with each other for the class win.
In the closing stages, although it had become somewhat static, there was activity, though mainly in the form of penalties. Ilyas and McBride were both awarded a drive through, though in the case of Ilyas it seemed somewhat academic as he was already out of the race anyway. That was followed by a drive through for Sainz, again for not respecting the track limits. The trouble was the penalties came through so late in the race that there was no time to actually serve them, and thus all three were instead hit with a 30 second penalty to be added to their overall times – though again how this was supposed to work in the case of Ilyas was a good question.
And so a delighted Jaafar came home to his first full F3 win, ahead of Lynn, Serralles, van Asseldonk, Harvey, Fantin, Tincknell, Derani, Sainz (once the penalty was applied) and Goddard. 11th was Padayachee, from McBride (again after the penalty had been applied) and that was it.
The fastest laps of the race were set by van Asseldonk and Padaychee.
Weather: Cloudy, cool, dry.