Menasheh Idafar made a perfect start to the fifth round of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire today, Monday, 26th May, by claiming a dominant pole position – but a chaotic race, with three enforced stoppages, didn’t offer the result the 17-year-old was aiming for.
Sustaining a broken front wing on the approach to Old Hall Corner after contact from rival Ash Davies during the final re-start, the British-born Bahraini had to battle hard to maintain anything like front running pace. Brilliantly managing to bring his car home in seventh position, Menasheh still maintains the runner-up spot in the championship.
“It’s really disappointing to lose the chance of a win today, especially having started on pole position”, said the Hillspeed ace, “During the first start I got away in the lead and I know I could have won the race from there. The first re-start wasn’t as good for me but (Ollie) Hancock wasn’t pulling away. I’m sure we would have pushed him hard.
“I didn’t feel as though the third start was bad. I got hit from the right hand side and then the contact broke my front wing. After that, it was difficult to drive the car so we’re quite lucky to have finished in seventh place. My friend Isa (Yusuf Mohammed) finished on the podium today though so I’m really happy for him, he deserves it.”
After securing his third career Formula Renault BARC pole start over half a second clear of his nearest rival with a tremendous lap of 1m 22.175 seconds (97.51mph), Menasheh led away well at the initial race start but it was red flagged almost immediately due to an accident on the grid further behind.
At the re-start, the British-born Bahraini got away cleanly again but was edged into second place at the first corner by his main championship rival Hancock. Racing strongly during the first three laps, Menasheh kept the leader in check and into the fourth lap was just four 10ths of a second behind and looking good value to mount a serious challenge.
An accident at Cascades though saw the race stopped for a second time. At the re-start, Menasheh didn’t get away quite as well from the front row and as he headed for Old Hall Corner he was sandwiched between the cars of Nathan Coulter and Ash Davies.
Contact from Davies on the right-hand side resulted in a break to the front wing on Menasheh’s car. The Welshman then speared off in front of the Hillspeed ace, colliding with Coulter, but Menasheh had the presence of mind to lift off the throttle as the two cars came together.
Although safely negotiating the corner and avoiding the chaos, the Ortolan, Gulfol and Gulf Computer Services backed racer did run wide due to the lack of downforce from his damaged front wing.
Rejoining in eighth position, Menasheh battled hard with his ill-handling car and then just five laps into the race it was red-flagged for a third and final time. Classified in seventh place at the finish, Menasheh added four points to his championship total. Including the point he achieved for pole position, Menasheh is now on 47 points in second place.
Bouncing back quickly from his disappointment today, Menasheh will be back in his Hillspeed car tomorrow, Tuesday, 27th May, for a test session at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire - the venue for the sixth and seventh rounds of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC season which take place a lengthy eight weeks from now on 19th/20th July.