Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series front-runner Menasheh Idafar made a welcome return to the points at Rockingham this afternoon, Saturday, 3rd September, after an impressively strong drive to ninth position in round 22 of the season.
Arriving at the Northamptonshire track aiming to get back inside the top 10 after a run of misfortune during the previous three events at Germany’s Nurburgring, Paul Ricard in France and Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, the 20-year-old did just that with a highly competitive performance today.
In this morning’s qualifying session, which took place under overcast skies, Menasheh lapped with the 12th fastest time of 1m12.830 seconds (95.89mph) to end the session just 0.072 seconds shy of the top 10 – an improvement of four 10ths of a second on his best from pre-event practice.
His incredibly consistent second best time of 1m12.854 seconds (95.86mph), used to determine grid positions for the first of the weekend’s three races, was good enough for an improved 11th fastest and only a mere 0.005 seconds away from the coveted top 10.
Round 22 started well for the T-Sport driver as he climbed into ninth place, including a terrific move around the outside of Will Buller at turn three, and this became eighth position on lap three when Kevin Magnussen suffered a spin.
Following a short Safety Car period, Menasheh held eighth but he wasn’t as comfortable as during the opening laps. He therefore lost a couple of places before the finish on lap 23 but managed to hold on to the coveted top 10 in his Dallara-Volkswagen. This later became ninth position though when a time penalty was applied to Buller for failing to observe a mid-race drive-through penalty.
“It was a good race today, I had a good start and felt really strong for the first few laps”, explained Menasheh, “I was able to pass a few guys and pull away but after the Safety Car I lost my rhythm a bit and so I wasn’t able to go as well as I had been before. I’m really pleased to be back in the points though, the car has been working well so far this weekend – it’s been a great start.”
Round 23 of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series is scheduled to get start at 11.00 tomorrow, Sunday, 4th September, with round 24 following at 14.50. Visit www.tsl-timing.com for full live timing of the entire event. Thanks to his ninth place finish today, Menasheh will begin the first race from the fifth row of the grid while for the final outing he will start in 12th position.