Jakob Ebrey Photography

Malaysian racer Jazeman Jaafar led the way at Rockingham today (Friday) in final testing ahead of the weekend’s crucial races for the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series. Jaafar’s Volkswagen-powered Carlin Dallara set the best time of the day in the first of the 50-minute tests, and topped the timesheets again in the third and final session to underline his pace.

Though half a second shy of last year’s pole time, Jaafar’s 1m 12.656s best was a tenth clear of his closest rival’s top time; that was Hitech’s Brazilian ace Pietro Fantin, who led the way in session two.

Jaafar was delighted with his showing: “It’s a great way to start the weekend,” said the 18-year-old London-based driver. “We have worked hard to get the car where it is and now it is a question of getting my head down and maintaining the pace through qualifying tomorrow. I’m feeling good. quietly confident.”

Jaafar’s Carlin colleagues filled many of the remaining top-10 places today, with Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen third fastest ahead of the top British runner, Rupert Svendson-Cook, Colombia’s Carlos Huertas and Jack Harvey.

Felipe Nasr, who could clinch the 2011 British Formula 3 championship title this weekend, finished the day seventh overall and the final driver in the 20-man field to break the 1m 13s barrier. Double R drivers Pipo Derani and Scott Pye were the quickest of the Mercedes-powered drivers, with local lad William Buller rounding out the top 10 for Fortec.

Official qualifying and Round 22 of the championship are scheduled for tomorrow, with two further races on Sunday.

British Formula 3 enjoys the headlining support of Cooper Tires and is additionally backed by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Official testing, Rockingham 2/9/2011

Championship class
1  Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS,  Carlin Dallara-VW  1:12.656 / 1:12.855 / 112.760
2  Pietro FANTIN / BRA,  Hitech Dallara-VW  1:12.939 / 1:12.764 / 1:13.024
3  Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN,  Carlin Dallara-VW  1:12.778 / 1:13.189 / 1:12.796
4  Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-VW  1:12.797 / 1:12.938 / 1:13.003
5  Carlos HUERTAS / COL,  Carlin Dallara-VW  1:12.812 / 1:13.282 / 1:13.347
6  Jack HARVEY / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-VW  1:12.990 / 1:13.582 / 1:13.082
7  Felipe NASR / BRA,  Carlin Dallara-VW  1:13.140 / 1:12.994 / 1:13.363
8  Pipo DERANI / BRA,  Double R Dallara-Mercedes  1:13.122 / 1:13.513 / 1:14.095
9  Scott PYE / AUS,  Double R Dallara-Mercedes  1:13.238 / 1:13.155 / 1:13.468
10  William BULLER /GBR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  1:13.173 / 1:13.448 / 1:13.757 etc

Rookie class
1  Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN,  Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda  1:15.786 / 1:18.618 / 1:16.102
2  Luca ORLANDI / ITA,  West-Tec Dallara-Mugen Honda  1:19.510 / 1:17.639 / 1:18.211