British-born Bahraini Menasheh Idafar raced brilliantly to a career best Formula Renault UK result of fifth position at Rockingham in Northamptonshire this morning, Saturday, 8th November, during the third round of the 2008 Winter Championship.
In slippery, drying conditions, the 17-year-old Hillspeed driver produced the best race finish achieved by any of the Formula Renault BARC graduates during this year’s UK winter series with sixth place on the road. However, it would later become fifth after a 30 second time penalty was handed to original third placed finisher Will Buller.
With highly experienced Portuguese driver Antonio Felix da Costa ineligible to score due to his non-MSA licence, this also meant Menasheh received the championship points for fourth place rather than fifth.
During the fourth and final round of the winter series at the 1.95-mile track this afternoon, Menasheh finished in 16th place having been very unlucky to get caught up in an incident involving several cars ahead of him on the run out of Deene Hairpin on lap four.
In eighth position as several cars made contact, the Gulfol, Gulf Computer Serives and Ortolan supported racer did the correct thing in trying to take avoiding action but the net result saw him slip down the order into 20th position.
He fought back well though, even though he was experiencing a severe vibration on his car due to a flat-spotted tyre, and eventually came through in 16th position. In the end, Menasheh concludes the 2008 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship a highly creditable 12th overall with 39 points, just 18 points shy of the top six.
Speaking after the final race, Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw said: “Menasheh did a very good job in the first race to finish sixth and to later be promoted to fifth was an even bigger boost. He raced well and if he’d had better luck in the second race there was the opportunity to have taken a top eight finish at the very least.
“To have achieved the highest race finish in the championship of any of the drivers to have graduated from Formula Renault BARC is a great result for him, Menasheh has come a long way this year and is a very quick young driver.”
During the wet 20-minute qualifying session at the start of the day, Menasheh was 10th fastest as he went on to his last lap but a terrific effort of 1m 32.925 seconds (75.49 mph) saw him shoot into the top five. Unfortunately he was then pipped by Will Buller and Oli Webb but seventh on the grid was, nonetheless, a great result.
Slipping to eighth at the start of round three, Menasheh then made the most of a mistake by Fredrik Blomstedt at Tarzan to take seventh place on lap six. Into lap seven he then had a look at Turn One of the banked Rockingham Oval to take sixth position from Harry Tincknell but the latter blocked the move.
Menasheh then darted back to the inside on the run to Deene Hairpin as the cars headed for the infield section and produced a textbook pass to move into the top six where he remained to the chequered flag.
Round four saw the Hillspeed racer line up 10th on the grid thanks to his second fastest lap from morning qualifying and he quickly gained a couple of places on the opening tour.
The Safety Car was deployed in time for the start of lap two and then at the re-start on lap four came contact involving several cars ahead of Menasheh as they rounded Deene Hairpin. Rightly choosing to take avoiding action, he was forced to slip down the order into 20th position but he fought back to 16th before the finish.