IDAFAR JUST EDGES HYLKEMA FOR TOP THREE WINTER SERIES FINISH Manor Competition drivers Menasheh Idafar and Thomas Hylkema ended the 2009 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship at Rockingham on Saturday, 7th November, split by a mere two points...
IDAFAR JUST EDGES HYLKEMA FOR TOP THREE WINTER SERIES FINISH
Manor Competition drivers Menasheh Idafar and Thomas Hylkema ended the 2009 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship at Rockingham on Saturday, 7th November, split by a mere two points in the standings -- Middle Eastern racer Idafar just edging the battle to finish the series third overall.
Both drivers proved to be every evenly matched during the opening two rounds at Snetterton in Norfolk and at the 1.94-mile Northamptonshire venue on Saturday, there was very little to choose once again between the team-mates.
Two top six results were enough to give 18-year-old Idafar his highly creditable third place finish in the championship while Dutchman Hylkema claimed an impressive fourth position thanks to a best result of fifth during the final race of the series, added to a top seven placing from the earlier race.
David McDonald overcame yet more horrendously bad luck to salvage a top eight series finish, seventh place in race two his highlight after being forced to miss the opening encounter due to the failure of a new wiring loom -- a particular disappointment for the Manor Competition team considering the squad's outstanding reliability all year long.
Category rookie Robert Foster-Jones, the 2009 B4/Renault MSA British Karting Champion, claimed a fine eighth place in the first race -- after a similarly strong run in qualifying -- but was lucky to walk away uninjured from a substantial collision with the barriers on lap five of race two.
Commenting on the winter series finale, Manor Competition co-owner Sarah Shaw said: "We've had a fairly successful winter campaign and we're pleased with the progress made by all four drivers, it's just unfortunate David has had such bad luck yet again, especially due to the failure of a new part. He undoubtedly has the pace, he's shown that time and again, he just needs some better fortune.
"It's been a steep learning curve for Robert but he's done a good job this weekend and we were all very relieved to see him walk away from his race two accident without injury. It was big impact but the chassis did its job in keeping him protected."
Shaw added: "Menasheh and Thomas carried on their close battle from Snetterton and although they were both disappointed not to be on the podium again, they raced well and were split by very little in the end. It's clear to see all four drivers have what it takes to be strong runners in the main championship next year."
McDonald and Foster-Jones both suffer misfortune
Qualifying at Rockingham took place on a wet track which offered faster times as the session neared its conclusion. Idafar was the best placed Manor Competition driver in seventh place, immediately ahead of the very impressive Foster-Jones with Hylkema ninth and McDonald back in 12th after a spin which forced his early withdrawal from the session.
In race one all drivers ran on slick tyres, with the track having dried sufficiently since the start of the day's activity, but luckless 19-year-old McDonald didn't even get the opportunity to line-up on the final grid due to the wiring loom failure.
Foster-Jones made a blistering start to the race to leapfrog Idafar as he moved into the top six but by the time the cars headed through the infield, the former was in seventh and it was Hylkema who led the Manor charge in fifth after a great first couple of corners.
Following a one lap Safety Car period, racing resumed on the third tour and Hylkema continued his inspired drive with a superb pass on Nick Yelloly to claim fourth position at Deene. Behind, Idafar also made up ground by passing Foster-Jones and Joseph Reilly but Hylkema suffered some bad luck on lap eight when he overshot the braking area at Deene and slipped to seventh.
Manor's remaining trio stayed in those positions to the chequered flag with Idafar finishing in sixth, Hylkema seventh and Foster-Jones sealing his career-best result of eighth.
In race two, Foster-Jones and Hylkema both produced better starts than Idafar with Foster-Jones actually edging into the top five momentarily before 21-year-old Hylkema made the position his out of Deene. McDonald, meanwhile, was up into the top nine from 12th on the grid thanks to a terrific start and first lap before going one better into eighth place.
As Hylkema held on to fifth, Idafar got past McDonald to move into the top eight and he then took seventh from Luke Wright on lap four. On the following tour, Foster-Jones had a spin at Gracelands and hit the retaining barriers hard, an incident which brought out the Safety Car. Thankfully though, he emerged unscathed and uninjured.
The re-start came over a distance of seven laps and finished with Hylkema taking fifth and Idafar grabbing sixth from McDonald at the exit of Pif-Paf on the final tour when the Surrey racer had a moment across the grass on the inside as he pushed hard.
Manor Competition now heads into the winter break preparing for the introduction of the brand new Formula Renault single-seater which will make its debut in the UK Championship in 2010.
Final 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Winter Championship Standings: 3rd Menasheh Idafar, 88pts; 4th Thomas Hylkema, 86pts; 8th David McDonald, 56pts; 12th Robert Foster-Jones, 37pts