Zaamin Jaffer - Brands Hatch IndyIndian racing star Zaamin Jaffer produced a pair of a consistently strong race performances at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 14th/15th May, during the latest two rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship to conclude the event 10th overall in the driver standings.

Following on from a very promising debut in the category at Donington Park last month, Zaamin equaled his best result of seventh during the opening Brands Hatch encounter – round three – and then raced brilliantly from a lower-than-expected 12th on the grid in round four to finish ninth.

Aside from the regular demands of a highly charged, ultra-competitive race weekend, the 21-year-old also had to balance the pressure of University exams. Almost immediately after the chequered flag had fallen to signify the end of round four, he rushed back to Cardiff in South Wales to prepare for a highly important exam which took place at 09.00 this morning!

“It’s definitely been a very busy weekend, on and off track”, said the Hillspeed driver, “Our race pace was really good and I was able to run some very consistent times lap after lap. It all came down to qualifying though, I couldn’t quite get the tyres working as I wanted. Overtaking is so difficult on the Indy track but considering where we started I think we did a pretty good job.”

As is so often the case at the Kent venue’s short, 1.2-mile ‘Indy’ track configuration the races were most definitely won and lost in qualifying. Although only 0.270 seconds shy of pole position in the round three session, Zaamin lined-up eighth on the grid for the race – leaving a lot of work to do over the course of the first 20-minute encounter.

Making a great start, the Active PR-backed driver got right into the thick of the action during the first couple of turns but on the run down to Graham Hill Bend contact to the rear of his car led to some damage, marginally delaying his progress. Even so, Zaamin fought through well and finished a highly creditable seventh with a best lap time mere 100ths of a second shy of podium pace.

Round four qualifying was equally frustrating with Zaamin taking a sixth row start for the second race of the weekend. Not quite able to string together the lap he wanted the Formula Ford graduate lost 0.3 seconds on his quickest effort which would, had he been to able to piece the lap together as his pace warranted, have meant a second row start.

Nonetheless, Zaamin raced very strongly once again and carved his way through from 12th place into the top 10 on the opening lap. Running comfortably but finding overtaking near-impossible, he did gain one additional spot on lap 11 following a retirement for fourth-placed driver Kieran Vernon.

Such was his fantastic pace, Zaamin – who resides in Dubai when not studying and competing in the UK – lapped within just 0.1 seconds of race winner Dino Zamparelli’s best; proof of what might have been had the qualifying session gone to plan.

“Everything came down to qualifying this weekend, as we expected it to”, he said, “I just couldn’t quite get the tyres working as I wanted early enough and so we weren’t able to put the times in that we knew we were capable of.

“We’ve got Oulton Park next which I’m looking forward to, that is a circuit where overtaking is possible. We need to get qualifying right though – I’m aiming for the top five and if we can achieve that I know I have a good chance to fight for my first podium and set up a really strong second half of the year.”

With more University exams over the next week or two, Zaamin’s focus will return to his racing just under a fortnight from now on Saturday, 28th May, for the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Cheshire’s Oulton Park Island Circuit.

Provisional 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (after Rd4):
1st James Thorp, 99pts; 10th Zaamin Jaffer, 51pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography