Donington Park National Circuit was the venue for the most difficult race meeting of the 2009 season for Michelin Formula Renault UK racer Menasheh Idafar over the weekend, 16th/17th May, a very promising qualifying effort compromised by a couple of unfortunate race incidents.
Having produced tremendous pace on Saturday in the round five qualifying session in particular where he was an excellent sixth fastest, the 18-year-old had a moment at the Old Hairpin on the first lap of the opening race on Sunday which saw him drop right down the order.
Pitting after the spin so his Hillspeed team could check over the car, Menasheh went back out into the race a lap down on the leaders and although he missed out on the opportunity to score any championship points he did, at least, post the fastest lap of any of the Graduate Cup runners with a time of 1m06.340 seconds (106.21mph) – just half a second shy of the best lap of all.
While the race result was far from what Menasheh had hoped for and expected following his superb qualifying performance on Saturday, he was at least able to prove his raw pace when he went back out on track.
Round six – which took place in wet conditions – wasn’t without its problems for the Ortolan and Gulf Computer Services supported driver but he did manage to score five championship points with a 16th place finish, the sixth highest placed Graduate Cup runner.
Lining up 13th on the grid, Menasheh remained in position on the opening lap after a decent run through the first few corners before the race came under caution following the deployment of the Safety Car at the start of lap two due to some cars off the circuit at Hollywood.
After the re-start, Menasheh did slip a couple of places unfortunately but managed to bring the car home just half a second outside the top 15. Disappointed with the weekend’s eventual outcome, driver and team can at least be buoyed by the performance displayed throughout qualifying.
Commenting on the weekend, Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw said: “It’s a shame the races turned out the way they did for Menasheh as our pace in qualifying was very good. That’s the way racing goes sometimes though, we just have to dust ourselves down and come back stronger during the next race meeting two weeks from now.”
The fourth event of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship, rounds seven and eight, will take place at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire a fortnight from now, 30th/31st May.