Menasheh Idafar concluded the eighth race meeting of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series with a thoroughly dominant performance at Silverstone’s ‘Bridge’ Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 15th August, to win the National Class battle by over half a minute.
Disappointed to miss out on class victory during the round 23 ‘pit-stop’ race this morning, the British-born Bahraini focused on delivering nothing other than the win in round 24 and he duly returned to the top step of the podium in fine style.
Heading into the weekend 10 points shy of title rival James Cole, Menasheh did slip further behind following the weekend’s first two races but his superb drive in round 24 – coupled with the bonus point for fastest National Class lap – has lifted him back to within just nine points of the lead.
“I’m really pleased to have ended the weekend so well”, said the 19-year-old, “I was disappointed to miss out on winning the pit-stop race as things went really well over the first couple of laps but in this afternoon’s race everything went perfectly. Our pace was really strong and I really did enjoy it.”
Starting round 24 a long way ahead of his chief rival on the grid, thanks to a superb effort in the damp and drying qualifying session on Saturday morning, Menasheh got away well from 12th place and by the end of lap one he’d held on to 13th position overall, some eight spots ahead of Cole.
Following a short Safety Car period, necessitated after a two-car tangle at Stowe on the first lap, the re-start came on lap four and Menasheh continued to run strongly in the midst of some very quick International Class runners including Daniel McKenzie, Daisuke Nakajima and Felipe Nasr.
Pushing hard and pressing home his clear-cut advantage in the lead of the National Class, the T-Sport driver fought hard in the midfield throughout the 23-lapper and eventually finished an impressive 14th overall, a mere 0.7 seconds behind International runner Jazeman Jaafar. Notably, he took the flag over 30 seconds ahead of Cole and posted a fastest lap one second quicker than Cole’s best.
The day’s earlier encounter didn’t deliver the win Menasheh was hoping for but he still bagged a haul of valuable points with a second place finish in class – behind Cole but ahead of Mexican Juan Carlos Sistos.
Lining up 21st on the grid, due to his finishing position in Saturday’s race, Menasheh ended the first lap in 17th position right on the tail of Cole and on the second tour he passed his team-mate for 16th but then immediately made his mandatory pit-stop along with several International Class drivers.
Cole remained on track and didn’t make his stop until the end of his eighth lap but as he exited the pits he emerged fractionally ahead of Menasheh. Split by just seven 10ths of a second at the finish, the difference in pit-stop strategy proved to be the determining factor.
There is now a two week break in the British F3 calendar with the penultimate event of the season, rounds 25, 26 and 27, taking place at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk on Sunday, 29th August, and Bank Holiday Monday, 30th August.