Italy’s world famous Autodromo Nazionale Monza provided a high-octane, action-packed opening to the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series this afternoon, Saturday, 16th April, with T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar securing a strong top eight finish on his race debut in the headline class.
Although morning practice and qualifying didn’t quite go according to plan for the 20-year-old, he made a fantastic start to the first round of the new season which ultimately put him in a great place to capitalise on the chaos which ensued during the half-hour encounter.
Reasonably satisfied with the 13th fastest time in qualifying, a lap of 1m46.587 seconds (195.7 km/h), Menasheh launched superbly off the grid to immediately get in the thick of the action before ending the first lap inside the top 10.
Following a short Safety Car period, due to a start-line incident at the beginning, racing resumed on lap three and the British-born Bahraini made further progress into the top eight. Within seconds of the re-start though, the Safety Car was required again after an incident at the Variante Della Roggia.
Three laps later, the action got back underway with Menasheh remaining in eighth place and doing a great job at the wheel of his Volkswagen-powered Dallara F310. Yet another Safety Car period was called during the final third of the race and although he did slip to ninth late-on, after contact from a rival, the 2010 National Class Champion fought back to take a deserved eighth position.
Over the final 3.6 miles of racing, Menasheh diced hard and just missed out on taking seventh place at the chequered flag – a mere 0.023 seconds the difference to experienced Formula 3 campaigner Hywel Lloyd.
Speaking on his first ever race at Monza, Menasheh said: “Overall I’m really pleased, I made three or four places up at the start and to finish eighth from where we started is a good result. We had some problems with the electronics in practice, so I had no lights or times on the steering read-out, but the team got that sorted and in the end the race went well.
“Near the end I did get some contact which let (Hywel) Lloyd get ahead. I only just lost out to him on the line but I’m happy enough, eighth is good to start the season.”
Round two of the 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series is scheduled to commence at 09.00 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 17th April, with round three following at around 12.15. Thanks to his top eight finish today, Menasheh will start on the fourth row of the grid for round two while for round three he will line up in 13th position again due to his second fastest time from qualifying.