Teenage Formula 3 racer Menasheh Idafar secured his first car racing championship in superb style at a wet Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 26th September – a remarkable outright Cooper Tires British F3 International Series podium finish giving him his 18th National Class victory of the season and, with it, the 2010 title.
Ending his first season of Formula 3 action with a dream result of third place overall in round 30, the 19-year-old British-born Bahraini also achieved National Class success in this morning’s penultimate encounter to take a clean sweep of wins on the 2.3-mile Brands Hatch GP track having also won round 28 on Saturday. This matches his trio of wins at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk a month ago.
“It’s amazing, I don’t know what to say!”, said Menasheh after scorching to the 2010 National Class crown and also being awarded the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend accolade, “It’s been a fantastic year, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I want to thank all of the guys at T-Sport for doing such an incredible job – it’s a fantastic team.”
Going into the last race of the season, Menasheh held a 13 point lead over National Class rival and team-mate James Cole meaning all he had to do was finish the 40-minute encounter to become champion. In the end though, he did far more than simply drive for a finish – Menasheh delivered the performance of his career so far to climb his way through onto the full, overall podium.
Prior to the start of the race the T-Sport driver made, what soon turned out to be, an inspired call to pit for wet-weather tyres at the end of the green flag formation lap as light rain began to fall at the Kent track. As round 30 got underway, Menasheh sat in the pits and by the time he had his treaded tyres bolted on the rest of the field were heading towards turn four.
Cole led the National Class by virtue of Menasheh’s stop but the Bahraini soon moved ahead on lap two when a moment for his team-mate dropped him down the order. Holding 18th position overall, Menasheh bided his time as slick-shod cars at the front continued to pull away but when the rain worsened around mid-distance he was able to begin making inroads.
Scything his way through into the top 10 by lap 16 as more cars pitted for wets, Menasheh’s great progress continued apace and on lap 20 he was into the top six after dispatching the slick-shod International Class car of Daisuke Nakajima.
More International runners, Adriano Buzaid and Carlos Huertas, had to give best to Menasheh on laps 21 and 23 respectively and then the very real prospect of an outright podium finish became increasingly likely.
Reeling in Daniel McKenzie’s International Class car, the outgoing National Class Champion defended hard at Druids on lap 25 but Menasheh produced a fantastic cut-back at Graham Hill Bend and took third place overall from McKenzie on the run along Cooper Straight into Surtees – a remarkable performance and a drive befitting a champion.
“After we went out on the green flag lap for the last race I decided to pit for wets to play it safe as I only had to finish the race to win the title. When the rain came more and more I was able to keep moving up the order and over the last few laps it was amazing, I couldn’t believe it when I got past (Daniel) McKenzie for third! It’s been a perfect weekend and a perfect end to the season.”
This morning’s 29th round was a more straight-forward affair with no interruptions from the rain but on the opening lap Menasheh did receive some slight contact to the rear of his car, causing some minor damage. Starting on the National Class pole position, 11th overall, he made a clean getaway and although slipping a few places after the contact, he still held the class advantage.
Running in 15th place, four spots ahead of Cole, he managed to see off the challenge of International Class runner Hywel Lloyd and in doing so finished 11 seconds clear in the National Class to take yet another victory.
Final 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
Champion: Menasheh Idafar, 435pts;
2nd James Cole, 418pts