Menasheh Idafar made the perfect start to his Formula 3 career at Oulton Park in Cheshire today, Saturday, 3rd April, by taking National Class victory during the opening round of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Championship.
Speaking after the race, the 19-year-old commented: “I’m really pleased to have started the season well with a class win, it was tough but I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to be back in the car on Monday now for rounds two and three. To win on my F3 debut is a great feeling.”
Having led the way in the National Class throughout official pre-season testing, the T-Sport rookie continued that form by lapping fastest in class at the wheel of his Mugen-Honda engined Dallara F307 during this morning’s qualifying session with a time of 1m31.277 seconds (106.17mph).
Under the 2010 rules for British F3, each driver’s best lap in qualifying determines their starting position for the third race of each weekend. For the opening race at each event, the second best lap times determine grid order and Menasheh’s next best time, 1m31.388 seconds, was good enough for the round one National Class pole and 14th place overall.
Holding on to the class lead at the start after some tense action, he ran in 13th position until lap four when he gained two spots at the expense of International Class competitors James Calado and Hywel Lloyd who collided.
At that point, the British-born Bahraini had a lead of more than two seconds over closest National Class rival, and T-Sport team-mate, James Cole but the Safety Car was then deployed on lap six to enable recovery of Calado’s stricken Dallara-Volkswagen. When racing resumed, Menasheh held on to his position but slipped behind International Class runner William Buller on lap 11.
Still well clear of Cole and continuing to build the gap over his chief rival, Menasheh gained a further place on the penultimate lap when Jay Bridger ran off the circuit and so took the chequered flag on lap 19 in 11th place overall, winning the National Class by 7.5 seconds. He also posted the fastest National Class lap of 1m30.564 seconds (107.01mph).
Reflecting on Menasheh’s competitive F3 debut, T-Sport team principal Russell Eacott added: “He did what he had to do today, took the class pole, had a decent start and managed to overcome some early drama to put a solid race together. Overall we’re happy with Menasheh’s performance, he still has a lot to learn but he’s made a good start to his F3 career and coped well with the pressure.”
Menasheh now has a day’s rest ahead of the second and third rounds of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 Championship which will take place at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, 5th April, at 10.05 and 14.50 respectively. The T-Sport racer will line-up 11th on the grid for the 20-minute second round while for the 40-minute third round he will start in 15th position.