Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship competitor Menasheh Idafar secured a richly deserved top 10 finish during the second of today’s two races at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent; the 18-year-old concluding the opening weekend of the season fifth overall in the ‘Graduate Cup’ standings.
Qualifying for round two in sixth position and the highest placed of the rookie drivers, the Hillspeed racer was looking forward to the outing but he didn’t get the start he wanted and lost ground to a couple of rivals as the encounter got underway on the 1.2-mile track.
Determined to make amends and secure his first top 10 finish of the season, Menasheh battled on and fought a very good race with a number of drivers including team-mate Lee Dwyer and highly-rated British karting graduate Will Stevens. Running inside the top eight early on, Menasheh slipped to ninth at Druids Hairpin on lap three but remained ahead of close rival Stevens.
Pressing on to try and take eighth position, the British-born Bahraini – whose best lap was a mere three 100ths of a second shy of the best time set by any of the rookie drivers – made a couple of attempts at Clearways on lap 14 and Paddock Hill Bend at the start of lap 15, but the latter saw him lose some momentum and this allowed Stevens to mount an attack.
On lap 20, the Safety Car was deployed onto track while the stranded car of Ryan Singleton was removed from the gravel trap on the exit of Paddock. At the re-start, Menasheh handled it well and maintained his top 10 placing but on lap 23, Stevens managed to edge through at Surtees.
Round one wasn’t as fruitful for the Gulfol, Gulf Computer Services and Ortolan backed driver with a 19th place finish largely the result of a qualifying run which didn’t go as hoped, tyre choice proving critical in the damp conditions on Saturday morning. Lining up on the ninth row of the grid, he raced solidly enough and at least ensured he started the season with a double points-scoring finish.
“We’re very pleased to have seen Menasheh pick up a top 10 finish this weekend, that was a target we had in mind so we’re happy to have achieved that aim”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “He was the third highest Graduate Cup runner in the second race too so that was a promising start. The first race was unfortunate but if you don’t qualify well at Brands Indy, to make up any ground in the races is nigh-on impossible.”
Combining his brace of points scores from the first event of the 2009 championship, Menasheh is equal 14th in the overall Formula Renault UK driver standings – tied on 13 points with reigning Formula Renault BARC Champion Ollie Hancock – and in the Graduate Cup chase he is fifth.
Menasheh now has a three-week break from track action until the third and fourth rounds of the Formula Renault UK season take place over the weekend 25th/26th April at Thruxton in Hampshire.