Exhaust failure cost Menasheh Idafar a near-certain points finish at Paul Ricard HTTT this afternoon, Saturday, 16th July, during round 16 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series – a bitterly disappointing outcome for the T-Sport racer after delivering one of his best drives of 2011.
Qualifying with the 11th fastest time for the first of the weekend’s three encounters at the French track, the 20-year-old made a good start and immediately set about pressuring the group of drivers ahead as an entertaining multi-car battle developed.
Eager to break into the points-paying positions, Menasheh took 10th place at the expense of Pietro Fantin on lap three and then set about closing the gap to Jazeman Jaafar. The Malaysian headed Menasheh by 1.8 seconds at the start of the sixth tour but inside two laps the 2010 National Class Champion had reduced Jaafar’s advantage to nothing.
The British-born Bahraini wasted no time in taking ninth position and he then set about lining-up an attack on eighth placed Lucas Foresti who was just 0.9 seconds further up the road. Unfortunately for Menasheh, his hopes of continuing his tremendous progress were shattered on lap 10 when his Dallara-Volkswagen dramatically slowed due to a rare exhaust failure.
Forcing an immediate return to the pits and subsequent retirement, Menasheh ended the race thoroughly disappointed but nonetheless heartened by his terrific performance and pace which was easily good enough for a top eight finish today.
“We were really unlucky this afternoon, the exhaust just broke and there was nothing we could do about it”, he explained, “It’s a real shame as we’d been having a really good race. I made a good start, I was really happy with the car and we had good pace.
“When I got past Jazeman (Jaafar) I was sure I was going to get (Lucas) Foresti but then we had the problem with the exhaust and the car slowed straight away. If we can have the same pace tomorrow that we showed in today’s race, we should be able to fight hard again for some good finishes.”
Round 17 of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series will begin at around 10.00 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 17th July, with round 18 following at 16.45. Due to his unfortunate retirement from this afternoon’s encounter, Menasheh will start the first race from the last row of the grid while for race two he will line-up in 12th position.