Rounds 10 and 11 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series produced a pair of very strong race drives from Menasheh Idafar at Hockenheim today, Saturday, 29th May – the National Class runner having to fight hard in both encounters but making terrific progress.
Battling tooth and nail with class championship leader James Cole throughout the first race of the weekend, the T-Sport pairing worked their way through the order well as several International Class drivers were given drive-through penalties for corner cutting.
Lining up ahead of Cole on the round 10 grid, Menasheh unfortunately slipped behind his team-mate at the start but remained glued to his rival’s tail up until lap 13 when he managed to find a way past with a good move at the hairpin to take the National Class lead. Bearing in mind the aforementioned penalties, the pass was also for an excellent ninth place overall.
Unfortunately, the 19-year-old ran wide a couple of turns later which allowed Cole back through but 10th position overall was still a fantastic result. Disappointment followed post-race though when Menasheh was given a 30-second penalty following his excursion – a confusing outcome considering he lost places in the process of running wide but a decision he accepted nonetheless.
“It was disappointing to get the penalty for running wide when I lost places through it but we have to accept the decision of the officials”, he commented, “Even so, we had a good race and to get into the top 10 overall on track was really good and showed the progress we’ve made.”
With the finishing order of the opening race setting the grid for round 11, Menasheh had a huge fight on his hands to try and get anywhere close to Cole – a full nine positions splitting them. Getting away well from the ninth row and moving past a couple of cars, the British-born Bahraini went wide at the first corner and subsequently slipped to last place as his dirty tyres struggled for grip.
Making up ground quickly, Menasheh delivered some superb lap times and after climbing into 18th position overall on lap four he set about catching British F3 returnee Wayne Boyd. Rapidly closing on the Northern Irishman, Menasheh was within four 10ths of a second of him at the end of the ninth tour – having been held up for several laps – and managed to find a way past on lap 10.
Quickly pulling clear of Boyd, his next target on track was National Class leader Cole but he was a full five seconds in the distance at this point – a task which looked too tall an order to accomplish with only three laps remaining.
Lapping with superb pace, faster than at least half a dozen of the International Class runners ahead, Menasheh ate into Cole’s advantage and from being five seconds adrift at the end of lap 11, he closed to within just 0.7 seconds of his rival at the chequered flag on lap 13.
“I made a great start to race two but went wide at the first corner, I lost grip and slipped back”, said the teenage F3 rookie, “The car was fantastic though, it felt really good. I got stuck behind (Wayne) Boyd for a while but when I got past him I was able to catch James (Cole) really quickly. I’m really pleased with the pace we had, it was an enjoyable race.”
Menasheh will be back in action at Hockenheim at 10.30 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 30th May, for round 12 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.
Live timing from Hockenheim can be followed at http://masters.wige-livetiming.de/index.php