Menasheh Idafar put in a terrific race performance during the opening round of the 2008 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship at Croft in North Yorkshire today, Saturday, 1st November, to secure a top 10 finish on his competitive category debut.
Heavy overnight rain had left the 2.12-mile circuit very wet prior to this morning’s qualifying session and after a difficult run in the tricky conditions, the 17-year-old posted the 15th best time of 1m 30.376 seconds (84.64mph) on his final lap.
Further down the starting order than he would have liked, Menasheh knew he had to produce a strong race drive and this he did with a fantastic rise through the field into ninth place at the chequered flag.
Like qualifying, round one took place in wet conditions and although the British-born Bahraini did slip a couple of places early on, he soon fought back and by lap six he was into 14th place.
Chasing fellow Formula Renault BARC graduate James Dixon, Menasheh ran in 12th position on lap 11 but into the hairpin he executed one of the passing moves of the race to take not one, but two positions at the expense of Dixon and Will Buller.
As the track started to dry more on the racing line, Menasheh did look more and more competitive but during the final quarter of the race he began to suffer with worn tyres. On the penultimate tour though, he moved into ninth place following a spin for Portugal’s Antonio Felix Da Costa.
Speaking after round one, Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: “We were very happy indeed with the way Menasheh came through in the race. Taking a ninth place finish on his Formula Renault UK debut, against some quality opposition, was a great result. The conditions were tricky to say the least but he did very well.”
Menasheh’s second best lap from qualifying placed him 17th on the grid for this afternoon’s second round of the championship and although it looked set to be a dry race, rain started to fall once again immediately prior to the 16-lap encounter.
At the start Menasheh got away well initially but as he turned through Clervaux for the first time, contact on the inside forced him wide into the gravel and the result was a bitterly disappointing lap one retirement.
As he rounded the corner, Menasheh was on the outside line but a car on his inside ran wide and thus left the Hillspeed racer with nowhere to go. Nonetheless, with the 12 points he collected for ninth position in race one, the Formula Renault UK rookie is 16th in the driver standings ahead of next Saturday’s winter series finale.
Rounds three and four of the 2008 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship will take place on Saturday, 8th November, at Rockingham in Northamptonshire with pre-event testing scheduled for Friday, 7th November.