MAIDEN FORMULA RENAULT UK PODIUM FOR IDAFAR AT WET SNETTERTON
Formula Renault UK racer Menasheh Idafar produced the drive of his career during the opening weekend of Winter Championship action at Snetterton in Norfolk today, Saturday, 31st October, to secure his maiden category podium finish with a superb second place in round two of the series.
In atrocious conditions at the 1.95-mile track, the 18-year-old Manor Competition driver was in outstanding form. Having been in the top four during official testing on Friday, Menasheh carried that pace forward into qualifying this morning where he secured two front row starts for rounds one and two of the winter series -- by far his best ever performance in a full UK-specification Formula Renault.
The first race was abandoned and postponed until the end of the day's action due to a couple of incidents in very wet conditions and at the time of the cessation, the British-born Bahraini was in second place. When the encounter was re-started, Menasheh wasn't able to get away from the grid as well as he had previously and slipped to fifth place on the opening lap.
Mounting a spirited fightback, he took fourth position from Dino Zamparelli at the Esses on lap two and remained there to the chequered flag on lap 15 a mere seven 10ths of a second behind Dutch team-mate Thomas Hylkema.
Podium and fastest lap lead to second in standings Round two proved to be the major highlight of the weekend for the Gulf Computer Services and Ortolan supported driver though. Making a good getaway from second on the grid to hold his place behind pole-sitter Harry Tincknell, Menasheh pulled well clear of Hylkema as the race progressed and actually started to catch the race leader during the closing stages.
At the finish on lap 15 he was just over 4.5 seconds shy of Tincknell but almost 10 seconds ahead of his Manor team-mate. Furthermore, Menasheh's charge as track conditions marginally improved towards the end meant he secured the fastest lap of the race -- and with it two bonus points in the championship -- with a time of 1m15.946 seconds (92.52mph).
Taking 22 points for fourth place in round one and 30 points in total for second position and the fastest lap in round two, Menasheh is a thoroughly deserved second overall in the winter series standings ahead of next weekend's third and fourth rounds at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
"I'm really happy to have finished on the podium today, my first ever in Formula Renault UK", said the delighted teenager, "Everything has been going really well with Manor, we were strong here yesterday in the timed test and then in qualifying it was great to get two front row starts. In the races the car was great, to get the fastest lap as well as a podium is a fantastic feeling."
Rounds three and four of the 2009 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship will take place next Saturday, 7th November, at Rockingham's International Super Sports Car Circuit. Before then, Menasheh will be back in action for unofficial testing at the Corby track this Thursday, 5th November, with an officially timed series of sessions following on Friday, 6th November.