Menasheh Idafar continued his fantastically consistent start to the 2008 Formula Renault BARC season at Rockingham today, Sunday, 20th April, by claiming a double podium to maintain his 100 per cent record of finishing on the rostrum during every race this year.
The British-born Bahraini racer, who headed into this weekend’s third and fourth rounds of the campaign with a three point lead in the championship, started both of today’s wet races from the front row of the grid.
Although his distinct lack of running in wet conditions relative to his rivals did ultimately cost him the chance of potential victory, Menasheh raced as hard as possible to net a brace of richly deserved top three results on a day when many other experienced competitors fell by the wayside in very tricky conditions.
Speaking after the Rockingham outing, the 17-year-old said: “It’s great to be on the podium for both races and although I am disappointed I couldn’t make more of the pole position, my lack of experience in the wet meant I couldn’t challenge as much as I wanted to. I learned a lot today though which can only benefit me in the future.
“It’s still a great result and means we’ve been on the podium in each of the first four races so it’s good for the championship. We’ve had very good consistency so far this year and we plan to continue that at the next race in five weeks’ time.”
At the start of this morning’s third round of the season, Menasheh’s getaway was compromised by too much wheel-spin on the wet track as he attempted to make the most of his pole position on the 1.95-mile International Super Sports Car Circuit.
Somehow, he still managed to hold on to the lead into Deene Hairpin but Ollie Hancock soon showed his infinitely greater experience of the conditions as he latched on to the tail of Menasheh’s car towards the end of lap one.
Into the second tour, Hancock nosed ahead over the start/finish line and took the lead through Turn One on the Rockingham Oval banking but Menasheh fought back well on the inside and re-took first place into Deene. Hancock managed to get by again though as they headed through Pif-Paf.
Lapping in a steady second position for the majority of the remainder of the race, the Gulfol, Ortolan and Gulf Computer Services backed racer then found himself in the sights of the charging Johannes Seidlitz.
On lap 11 of 14, the German managed to sneak through on the inside on the exit of Tarzan Hairpin as both drivers tip-toed their way past backmarker Joshua Brooks and so Menasheh eventually ended the race in third position.
Round four didn’t see a great deal of improvement in conditions, Menasheh starting on the opposite side of the grid this time in second position – his third front-row start from the first four races.
The original race was red flagged on lap two after Ellis Harkins’ car made heavy contact with the retaining wall at Turn One. At the re-start, Menasheh staggered away from the line which cost him several places but he launched past a number of cars into Deene Hairpin and emerged back in second place.
On lap three, Menasheh found himself under pressure from Seidlitz but the latter spun off the track at Steel Straight meaning Hancock was now the driver looming large in his mirrors. Defending as hard as he could, Menasheh had to concede the position on lap five at Tarzan and so he ended up in third place where he remained to the flag.
Although he has slipped behind Hancock to second in the championship standings, Menasheh is still in terrific shape as the season now enters a five-week competitive break ahead of the fifth round of the campaign which will take place at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, 26th May.
Before then, the Hillspeed ace will join team-mates Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Lyons at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire this Tuesday, 22nd April, for an officially timed test session alongside competitors from the sister Formula Renault UK Championship.