McKENZIE & CALADO WIN AS IDAFAR STEALS SHOW Star drives from Daniel McKenzie, who won the sprint race from pole position, and from newly confirmed championship runner-up James Calado, the victor in torrential rain in the feature race, brought...
McKENZIE & CALADO WIN AS IDAFAR STEALS SHOW
Star drives from Daniel McKenzie, who won the sprint race from pole position, and from newly confirmed championship runner-up James Calado, the victor in torrential rain in the feature race, brought the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series to a superbly exciting conclusion at Brands Hatch today.
Menasheh Idafar stole the show: the British-born Bahraini clinching the National class championship title in brilliant style with a third-place overall finish for T-Sport in the rain-hit third race of the weekend.
Daniel McKenzie made it two out of two for the Fortec team and Mercedes at Brands Hatch this morning, following the example of his team-mate Oli Webb, who yesterday led all the way from pole position to chequered flag. McKenzie's victory in the second race of the Brands weekend was his second of the season. James Calado finished fifth to secure second in the championship, while Menasheh Idafar won the National class.
McKenzie won the race on the opening lap on a circuit renowned for its difficulty and lack of overtaking opportunities. He made a great start from the pole position he won in the reverse-grid draw to lead Hitech driver Will Buller into Paddock Hill Bend. Buller launched an attack on the leader into the Druids hairpin but tagged McKenzie's car and spun to the tail of the field, and that left Dan clear to get his head down and sprint to victory.
"The first lap was interesting," said McKenzie. "Buller tried to around the outside, and he might have made it, but he turned in on me. He squeezed me and I had nowhere to go, and he hit my left front. The car wasn't too bad, I had a wheel vibration but it wasn't severe enough to make much difference. I pushed on and got some good lap times even though my tyres were pretty well rooted from the first race." McKenzie will start this afternoon's concluding round from pole also.
As in yesterday's race the top 10 finishing positions were established on the opening lap, Raikkonen Robertson racer Carlos Huertas picking up second with Buller's demise and hanging on for his fourth podium finish of the season. Adriano Buzaid finished third for Carlin, his seventh consecutive podium finish - a new record for the championship this season.
The new champion, Jean-Eric Vergne - who, it was announced this week, will test for the Toro Rosso F1 team in November - placed fourth, just ahead of Racing Steps Foundation driver James Calado. Calado's rival for second in the championship, Oli Webb, finished two places behind; not close enough to deprive Calado of the honour. Rupert Svendsen-Cook sandwiched the two protagonists.
Raikkonen Robertson men Daisuke Nakajima and Felipe Nasr, along with T-Sport's Alex Brundle, completed the top 10.
Idafar's route to his 17th National Class win of the season was a straightforward affair, Menasheh finishing well clear of his T-Sport team-mate James Cole to put one hand on the class championship title.
James Calado put in the drive of his season this afternoon at Brands Hatch to win the final round of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series season. He led the early dry laps, pitted for wet tyres and then retook the lead to win by 8 seconds from Will Buller. Remarkably, Menasheh Idafar claimed third place overall, the National class win and also the National championship title.
Having already secured the championship runner-up spot earlier in the day, Calado was free to give his Racing Steps Foundation Dallara its head on his final drive in F3 and the Worcestershire driver duly gunned it off the line from second on the grid to nail the lead into Paddock Hill Bend.
A steady pre-race drizzle made the going treacherous but Calado drove a brilliant opening lap to lead Brands race one victor Oli Webb by three seconds. James pulled clear with every lap but, by his 15th tour, decided that the conditions were sufficiently poor to require a pit stop for wet tyres. Will Buller, whose Hitech machine had slotted into second after champion Jean-Eric Vergne made an uncharacteristic mistake, slithering into the gravel at Druids, followed Calado into the pits.
This put Webb out in front for two laps until he too decided that caution was the best policy and pitted. Webb's Fortec team-mate Daniel McKenzie then took over in front but not for long: Calado, now on the correct tyres for the conditions, went back in front on the 20th lap, pursued by Buller.
"I was very worried when I stopped," said Calado, who earlier in the day learned that he will race next season in GP3 with Racing Steps. "I wasn't sure if it was the right decision and it was quite a last-minute thing. The guys did a great job in getting the wet tyres on and that enabled me to get back in front and stay ahead of Will, who was pushing really hard. It's a very emotional win for me and it's great to win the last race of the season."
While Calado was shining in the gathering gloom out front, the real star performance of the late race came from Menasheh Idafar, the T-Sport National Class driver having pitted very early for wets. He broke into the top 10 on lap 16 and, while some ahead of him slithered off track or pitted, he made several bold overtaking moves to close in on the podium in the closing laps. The slick-shod cars of Carlos Huertas and McKenzie fell victim relatively easily three laps from the end and Idafar made it up to third.
"The tyres came to me as the conditions worsened," said Menasheh, "and I was able to pick cars off one by one, while being careful because I had to finish the race." That was vital, for Idafar needed only to complete the race to win his season-long battle with his team-mate James Cole to claim the class championship title. A bonus prize for Idafar was the just awarding of the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend award.
Another early stopper who profited from his decision was Sino Vision Racing's Adderly Fong, who followed Idafar through the pack to secure his first championship points of the season in great style with fourth place.
Jay Bridger was a season-best fifth for Litespeed, with McKenzie slithering home sixth ahead of Felipe Nasr, Carlos Huertas, Adriano Buzaid and Webb.
British F3 is sponsored by US tyre manufacturer Cooper Tire and is further supported by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and Mirror.co.uk
Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Round 29 Brands Hatch 26/9/2010 13 laps 34.51 miles Provisional results International class