Jazeman Jaafar made the best of slow starts for both front row occupants to score his second win of the British F3 season and move into the championship lead at the expense of Carlos Sainz Jr.
Sainz, with Carlin teammate Harry Tincknell and Fortec Motorsport driver Pipo Derani had been relegated to the back of the field for infringements in qualifying but it was Jack Harvey and Alex Lynn who proved that qualifying well is less than half the job.
Both Harvey from pole and Lynn alongside made terrible starts, allowing Jaafar to slip through into the lead before turning into the Deene hairpin for the first time. Harvey lipped back to fifth, behind Jaafar and the trio of Fortec Motorsport cars, Lynn somehow keeping his second position ahead of Felix Serralles and Hannes van Asseldonk.
One man to make the most of the opening lap was Tincknell. The Devon driver was one of three drivers starting at the back after penalties in qualifying but a great first lap had him ahead of the two National Class drivers as well as Carlos Sainz Jr., Nick McBride and Geoff Uhrhane.
The progress of Sainz and Derani – the others stripped of their times after qualifying – was slower as they fought past the slower driver. Sainz passed McBride's Nissan ThreeBond powered car and Double R Racing driver Fahmi Ilyas on consecutive laps to start lap four in eighth.
Derani was the next to try and find a way though, but made contact with Uhrhane at Chapman trying to take tenth place. Contact spun booth cars, Derani briefly facing the wrong way in the middle of the track before spinning himself around to continue. Uhrhane, on the other hand, was stranded on the grass on the outside of the track. Protected by waved yellow flags the Australian abandoned his car in a spot that could well have warranted a safety car.
A safety car could have changed the destination of the race, deleting the near two second lead built up by Jaafar in the opening laps but Uhrhane's car remained unmoved, the yellow flags repealed after a handful of laps as the racing continued.
It was not the only safety car scare the Malaysian would have had. A terrible race for Double R Racing was completed when Nick McBride and already lapped Ilyas came together at Tarzan, leaving Ilyas, like his teammate, parked at the side of the road. Again, marshals were able to pull the car far enough from the track edge to avoid a safety car period.
Jaafar had protected his early lead well, keeping Lynn two seconds behind as he increasingly had to battle Serralles to keep third place. At the end of 22 laps Jaafar led to the line by 2.1 seconds to take his first proper British F3 win following on from his maximum points haul at Pau.
“It's incredible,” Jaafar summed up his emotions. “I don't know how to sum it up in a sentence. It's an amazing feeling to lead right from the start and stay consistent and not make any mistakes for the whole race. The start was great: there was not so much grip on my side of the track, but I was ready to go, all set, and then I saw Jack had a poor start and I went for it and dived up his inside.”
Like the battle for second van Asseldonk in fourth had to contend with Harvey chasing him down. The poleman remained close, but never really mounted a serious challenge for position.
Pietro Fantin completed a rather lonely race in sixth place, with Tincknell seventh, his early progress quickly halted one he reach the more established F3 runner. Sainz and McBride, despite his moment with Ilyas, were eighth and ninth across the line, which should have put the Spaniard one pole for the reverse grid race two but not for a 30 second penalty applied post-race for running outside of track limits.
McBride was assessed the same penalty, giving Pipo Derani reverse grid pole for Fortec Motorsport.
After dominating qualifying Spike Goodard‘s apparent advantage disappeared for the race as Duvashen Padayachee pressured his fellow Australian all race for the National Class lead but fell short by just six-tenths at the end of the race.