Menasheh Idafar, the 16-year-old Bahraini who made his UK race debut in Formula Renault BARC at the start of the year, produced a career best result at Donington Park National Circuit earlier today with a maiden podium finish in the BARC Class of the 2007 Formula Renault Winter Championship.
The British born teenager, who is sponsored by Gulf Computer Services and has a base in London as well as his family home back in Bahrain, got his weekend off to a strong start during pre-event testing at the Leicestershire venue on Thursday and continued his good form in this morning’s sole 20-minute qualifying session.
Menasheh posted the third fastest time in the BARC Class with a lap of 1m 07.017 seconds (105.13mph), just 1.1 seconds off the outright UK Class pole position time set by Riki Christodoulou, and his second fastest lap – which would determine his starting position for round two – was fourth quickest in the BARC group, a time of 1m 07.087 seconds.
Round two was certainly the most rewarding of the day’s races for the youngster and although he was forced to take avoiding action on lap two to miss the retiring Sten Pentus, which dropped Menasheh down to 26th position overall, he mounted a solid fight-back following a short Safety Car period to end the race inside the top 20 and second in class.
Having dispatched several BARC rivals during the middle of the race, Menasheh moved up from third in class to second on lap 16 when Brett Parris made a mistake. Allowing the teen racer through, he gladly accepted his first ever podium finish in a Formula Renault car.
The first of the day’s two races was less favourable for Menasheh, contact on the start/finish straight heading to Redgate Corner at the beginning of lap two resulting in broken steering, a damaged front wing and an early retirement in the gravel trap on the outside of the turn.
Although disappointed with his round one exit, Menasheh was delighted to be on the podium in the second encounter and is pleased with the progress he has made throughout the Donington Park weekend. Now, of course, he’s looking forward to the Winter Championship finale at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire just seven days from now.
“I’m really happy to have scored my first BARC podium and the important thing is that our lap times were quite strong today”, said Menasheh, “I enjoyed the racing and it was just disappointing the first race ended too early for me. I’m looking forward to Croft though, I’d like to be on the podium again and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”
Following rounds one and two of the Winter Championship, Menasheh is an excellent third in the BARC Class standings although tied on 12 points with Michael Lyons and Joshua Brooks. Rounds three and four of the series will take place on Saturday, 10th November, at Croft Circuit with pre-event testing scheduled for Friday, 9th November.