Menasheh Idafar emerged from two incident-packed, and wildly unpredictable, Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series races at Paul Ricard in France today, Sunday, 17th July, with a pair of very hard-fought top 12 results.
As during Saturday’s 16th round, until his unfortunate exhaust failure became apparent, the 20-year-old performed very well indeed in both encounters and certainly deserved at least one points finish from the weekend.
The beginning to round 17 was nothing short of chaotic after a car stalled and the lights sequence on the gantry over the start/finish straight didn’t make it clear whether the action had been aborted or whether racing was underway. Some drivers thought the former was the case while others believed the race to have started, leading to unsurprising multi-car contact.
Menasheh was one of those able to avoid any issues and so at the re-start he profited from three cars ahead being removed the equation. Nonetheless, he delivered a strong opening to end lap one in 15th position just 0.2 seconds behind team-mate Yann Cunha and by the end of the second tour he was up into 13th place – all after having started at the back of the grid due to Saturday’s retirement.
With the race distance limited to just six laps after the earlier problems, there wasn’t a great deal of time available for Menasheh to try and make his way much further up the order but he did grab 12th place from Adderly Fong on the third tour to cap a highly impressive drive.
The British-born Bahraini made a great start to round 18, for which he qualified in 12th position, but some early contact delayed him and also led to steering damage which compromised his pace and turning ability into right-handers.
Several spinners at the start resulted in the Safety Car being deployed for quite some time with the action not truly getting underway until lap six. Running in 13th place, Menasheh piled pressure onto Pipo Derani and then gained two positions on lap seven when Derani and Kotaro Sakurai ran wide and dropped back.
Although slipping to 13th position as the race passed mid-distance, the T-Sport driver continued to fight hard and ran close behind title contender Lucas Foresti. On lap 12 though, contact between the pair resulted in a damaged floor to Menasheh’s Dallara-Volkswagen and although able to recover he lost a lot of time. Even so, a couple of incidents during the closing stages enabled him to regain 12th.
“I made a very good start to the second race but there was contact from (Carlos) Huertas and that damaged my steering, I couldn’t put enough lock on in the right-hand corners so that made things really tough”, explained Menasheh, “Then, after the thing with (Lucas) Foresti, the floor got damaged but at least I could continue and we made the finish.
“The first race today was really messy at the start, my pace wasn’t so good but we did manage to come through to a decent enough result. It’s been a tough weekend but Spa is next and I’m really looking forward to that, we were good there last year in the National Class car so hopefully we can have a good run this time in the A Class.”
The seventh event of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, rounds 19, 20 and 21, will take place at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, 29th July, and Saturday, 30th July.