Zaamin Jaffer - Donington ParkProtyre Formula Renault BARC Championship rookie Zaamin Jaffer made a strong start to the 2011 season at Donington Park today, Sunday, 24th July, by just missing out on a top six finish on his racing debut in a ‘slicks and wings’ car.

Taking seventh place in round one, a gain of two positions on his grid slot, the 21-year-old Indian born racer was on course for an eighth place finish at least in round two but contact from a rival, and subsequent puncture, spoiled his hopes two laps from the finish.

Zaamin, who resides in Dubai when not racing or studying in the UK, concluded the first weekend of the 12-race championship 11th in the driver standings and is confident there is much more to come during the next event at Brands Hatch in Kent three weeks from now.

“The speed is definitely there”, he said, “We just need to get everything right in qualifying and then we can consistently challenge at the front. You need to be in the top six in qualifying at least and we just missed out on that this weekend. I know we have the pace though.”

Qualifying did indeed prove to be the most decisive part of the weekend for Zaamin. Running very strongly in the round one session, and sitting atop the timing screens during the early stages, traffic issues during the second half resulted in a relatively unrepresentative ninth fastest time. In round two qualifying, the Hillspeed driver ended the run 12th quickest.

Zaamin made a decent start to the season-opening race and having avoided an incident at Schwantz Curve on lap one he headed into the second tour on the edge of the top 10, eager to make up as much ground as possible.

Quickly moving up into ninth and then into seventh by lap four, the Formula Ford graduate spent the second half of the race trying to close down the gap to the top six runners having made terrific early progress. Taking the flag on lap 14 in seventh place, he thankfully survived a late-race scare when rival Matt Mason attempted a do-or-die pass at the chicane.

In round two, Zaamin – who is sponsored by Dubai-based Active PR – moved up from 12th into the top 10 by the end of the opening lap and although slipping to 11th prior to a two lap Safety Car period he soon moved back up the order.

Holding ninth position at the halfway point, Zaamin moved up into the top eight again but contact to his rear tyre at the end of lap 14 resulted in an excursion and a puncture. Although dropping to 14th position at the finish, he was at least able to make it round the final couple of laps to secure some additional championship points which could be crucial come the end of the season.

“I definitely expected more this weekend and so I am a bit disappointed”, he added, “We shouldn’t be starting races mid-grid and that’s mainly where everything went wrong – if you’re on the first two or three rows you just don’t get caught up. I’m aiming much higher for Brands Hatch.”

Zaamin now has a three week break from motor racing action ahead of rounds three and four of the 2011 season at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent over the weekend 14th/15th May.

Provisional 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (after Rd2):
1st James Thorp, 60pts; 11th Zaamin Jaffer, 23pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.