Teenage single-seater sensation Menasheh Idafar racked up his fourth career pole position at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire this afternoon, Saturday, 19th July, during qualifying for the sixth and seventh rounds of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC season.
Menasheh’s delight at securing pole position for round seven was well deserved having been very strong during the sole 20-minute session which determined the grid for both of Sunday’s 14 lap races.
The 17-year-old’s fastest lap during the session, 1m 21.371 seconds (94.01mph), was good enough for second on the grid for round six while his second best lap of 1m 21.407 seconds (93.97mph) placed him on pole position for round seven, over a 10th of a second clear of his closest challenger.
Unfortunately for Menasheh, his quickest time of the day was later disallowed due to a flag infringement on his final run. So, rather than starting on the front row for the first of tomorrow’s races, the British-born Bahraini will instead begin round six from third place on the grid courtesy of his 1m 21.407 second lap.
Underlining Menasheh’s stunning consistency though, his third quickest time of 1m 21.458 seconds was sufficiently faster than the best his rivals could manage so he maintains his pole position start for round seven.
The unintentional flag infringement came close to the end of a session which had already been interrupted by two stoppages. The third and final red flag was shown due to a car going off the circuit.
As Menasheh returned to the pits, he caught a considerably slower FR2000 Class car which he believed to have a problem. Unfortunately for Menasheh, as he passed the car under red flags he left the Clerk of the Course with no option but to remove his best time of the session.
Fully understanding the decision, Hillspeed team boss Richard Ollerenshaw explained: “The car in front of Menasheh slowed considerably so he had no choice but to pass, he thought it had a problem but he now realises his mistake. He was also unsighted to the flags by the car in question but we fully accept the decision, it was handled fairly.”
While Menasheh showed excellent pace from the off today, coupled with a very impressive run in unofficial testing on Friday, for Formula Renault BARC Championship leader Ollie Hancock qualifying wasn’t as fruitful with an 11th place start for the first race and a 10th position start for race two.
With that in mind, Menasheh has a terrific opportunity to close down the points gap to Hancock in the title race at Croft tomorrow and will be aiming to achieve his fifth and sixth podiums of the season. Incidentally, by securing the round seven pole position Menasheh did bag a bonus point meaning he is now 16 points shy of the series lead.
Menasheh said: “We had good pace today and although it’s disappointing about the red flags, I accept the decision and I’m confident we can fight for two podiums tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to it and with Ollie (Hancock) starting further back, we have a great opportunity to close in on him in the championship.”
Round six of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship will take place at around 13.15 tomorrow, Sunday, 20th July, with the seventh round of the campaign expected to follow at 16.15.