Jazeman Jaafar is just days away from the start of the 2018 24 hours of Le Mans, with the pre-race build-up already in full swing. Jaafar forms part of an all-Malaysian line-up at Jackie Chan DC Racing, along with Weiron Tan and Nabil Jeffri, with the young Malaysian full of excitement ahead of taking to the track ahead of his maiden outing at the big race.
Despite being a seasoned Endurance racer, having taken on the likes of the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, he has never taken on Le Mans before. The young Malaysian is excited for the challenge ahead and said: “It felt very special to be there and after watching the race on television since a child and the first few laps gave me goosebumps, to actually be driving on it. It’s an awesome track, I’ve never driven anything like it before.”
“I think it was the number of high speed corners that surprised me most, as seeing it on TV doesn’t do justice to that. The track has about 70% high speed corners which suits me as I like this type of corner.
“Loads of them are blind and challenging so it takes a while to get to grips and up to speed with them. It was a very special experience to have my first drive of the circuit.”
He is also looking forward to competing in an all-Malaysian team, adding:
“It’s very special to be racing in an all-Malaysian car, there’s never been a car at Le Mans with all three drivers Malaysian, so it’s pretty historic for Malaysian motorsport.
“We may be seen as underdogs, particularly as we are all rookies, but we have already proved with our fourth place finish at Spa (and promotion to a podium third place) that we’re not out there just making up the numbers.”
“Flying the flag for Malaysia is very special. Coming from Asian Le Mans Series and achieving on merit an invitation to Le Mans makes it even more impressive and I believe it has opened people’s eyes to what we can achieve and puts us on a world stage at the top level of sportscar racing.”
But while he remains confident for success in his maiden outing at Le Mans, Jaafar remains realistic, and in relation to the targets for this race says: “The first goal will be to reach the chequered flag as that is a major feat in itself.
“Everything has to come together – team, drivers, car – to achieve that. If we can achieve this without any technical problems or driving incidents, we’ll be looking strong for a top five finish. Of course if we can be on the podium it would be fantastic, but I think we have to be realistic and aware that we don’t have as much experience as others and there is lots to learn.”
But after a strong third place finish in the LMP2-class for Jaafar at the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps in the number #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing car, the young Malaysian has every right to be optimistic heading to Le Mans. More so around this track, as last year their team-mates in the number #38 car claimed an overall podium finish. So if they keep it clean and reliable, anything could indeed happen.