A thrilling final round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Nurburgring this weekend, finished with Jazeman Jaafar and his team mates taking the Vice Champions Blancpain Endurance Cup title. The HTP Motorsport #84 Mercedes AMG GT3 drivers were only one point adrift of the champions, after they finished fourth in the season finale.
Jazeman and his team mates, Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann started the weekend with second fastest time in practice, despite the session being interrupted with yellow flags and shortened by 10 minutes after a rival car crashed into the barriers. The pre-qualifying session saw the #84 car well down the order, but with the team focussing on race pace the team were confident of their performance potential.
Thick fog greeted the teams for the qualifying sessions on Sunday morning and after waiting for it to lift, the organisers opted to cancel the first two sessions, just running one session to set the grid slots. Maxi Buhk was selected to qualify the #84 car and as Jazeman and Dominik watched from the pits, the German driver headed on to a track with limited visibility to set a quick lap time. Despite only having time for a few laps Maxi put in a lap which put the #84 car third on the grid, a second row slot for the start of the race, and the highest placed championship contender, a great effort from the experienced Austrian driver.
Dominik piloted the car for the first stint, holding position off the line for the opening laps. He succumbed to pressure from a hard-charging Audi, dropping to fifth place He remained in fifth place until late in his stint but lost another place just before the pitstop window opened, with the German pitting on Lap 32. He handed the car over to Jazeman. Jazeman and with speedy work from the pit crew the young Malaysian came out in fifth place. A few laps later Jazeman made a superb overtaking manoeuvre on the fourth placed Lamborghini to snatch a place, a position he held until the end of his stint when Maxi stepped in for the final hour of the race. Maxi was unable to close up enough to reach a podium position and brought the car home safely in fourth place.
Jazeman said of the weekend, “It’s been an amazing weekend, with plenty of highs and lows, a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. We had a really good start to the weekend, while our main rivals, the #58 McLaren had a bad one. We were running really well in the race, while the McLaren was struggling, but we also knew that we had to finish on the podium if we were to get the title and despite good race pace, we just didn’t have quite enough to challenge the top three, which was a bit frustrating. Losing out by just one point is really tough, although whether it’s one or ten, I guess it doesn’t matter!”
“Doing so well but just missing out was tough,” adds Jazeman. “We did everything we could but the Balance of Performance adjustments this weekend seemed not to favour us and we couldn’t match the front runners. Finishing second in the championship though was a great result for me in my first full season of sportscar racing. It’s been a big change from single-seaters, but I’m hooked now and just want to get back on the track as soon as I can!”
Jazeman returns to the Blancpain Sprint Series in two weeks time with the final round of the championship in Barcelona, Spain.