Sensational Idafar Scorches To Third Podium Of Season
Talented single-seater racer Menasheh Idafar produced a memorable drive in a rain-affected 26th round of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit today, Sunday, 25th September, to brilliantly secure his third podium finish of 2011.
Lining-up on the sixth row of the grid in 11th position, the always entertaining British-born Bahraini delivered a sensational performance in the first of the day’s two races to scythe his way through the order and finish within just 0.182 seconds of equaling his previous F3 career-best of second place.
Rain ahead of the race meant wet-weather tyres were the only option and following a great start, the 20-year-old rapidly climbed into seventh place on the opening lap before producing a terrific pass on Carlos Huertas at Melbourne Hairpin to take sixth.
Driving beautifully, the T-Sport sensation pressured Jazeman Jaafar for fifth and gained the place on lap two before immediately setting off after Harry Tincknell. Swiftly closing in, Menasheh posted lap times second only to race leader – and 2011 GP3 Series Champion – Valtteri Bottas at that point and continued to find more and more pace with each tour of the 2.5-mile track.
By lap nine he was on the tail of the three car battle ahead, Tincknell, Will Buller and Scott Pye, with the latter Menasheh’s new target after some place swapping. Then, at McLeans on lap 10, Tincknell and Pye made contact which opened the way for Menasheh to take third place.
Within 1.7 seconds of Buller, he pressed on at the wheel of his Dallara-Volkswagen and closed the gap down to just 0.9 seconds into the penultimate lap. By the time they reached the hairpin, the two were nose-to-tail and after shadowing Buller throughout the final lap Menasheh almost managed to take second place at the hairpin when the Northern Irishman went wide on the exit as he defended.
Crossing the line less than two 10ths of a second adrift, Menasheh’s sensational drive from 11th to third marked possibly his best performance of the season and stands as a big confidence boost prior to the championship finale at Silverstone a fortnight from now.
“My start was ok, it should have been better but it was good enough”, said Menasheh, “The race went really well, the first lap was great and I was really pleased with the pass on Carlos (Huertas); the one on Jazeman (Jaafar) at McLeans was really good too.
“When Tincknell and Pye came together, they spun across and nearly wiped me out – it was really lucky! The car felt good though, the tyres were finished towards the end as the track dried more and more but it was a great race and fantastic to be back on the podium.”
During the second of the day’s races, round 27, Menasheh again delivered a strong account of himself after fighting through the order to 11th place following a pit-stop to change from slick tyres to wets at the end of the green flag formation lap.
Scheduled to line-up 14th on the grid, rain started to fall ahead of the race and worsened as the drivers headed off on the sighting lap. Following his stop, Menasheh joined the action down in 19th position and a long way adrift of the next car but he mounted another impressive drive and by lap six he was into 16th place.
Up into 15th on lap seven, past team-mate Yann Cunha, he closed down the gap to Max Snegirev before passing the Russian around the outside at Redgate Corner with a tremendous move. Setting the fastest lap of the race on the 11th tour, Menasheh confirmed his superb pace in the challenging conditions although this was bettered by Bottas later on.
Moving into the top 12 on the penultimate lap, the 2010 National Class Champion reeled in the group of cars ahead and at the finish he was just 1.6 seconds shy of Jaafar – a great recovery from his early pit-stop. After the race, Menasheh was promoted to 11th position due to a time penalty for Tincknell linked to a starting procedure infringement.
Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire will host the final three rounds of the British F3 season a fortnight from now over the weekend 8th/9th October. The championship will run in support of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd27):
14th Menasheh Idafar, 41pts