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Archive for July, 2010

Menasheh Idafar raced to a pair of superb National Class victories during today’s Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series action at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium to open up a four point lead in the championship standings.

Winning round 16 this morning, Friday, 30th July, in style after a highly impressive drive through the order into 12th place overall – significantly nine positions clear of class rival James Cole – Menasheh went on to secure his second success of the day in round 17 with another deserved top 12 finish.

“It’s my first ever time at Spa so I’m delighted to win both races”, said the 19-year-old, reflecting on his eighth and ninth victories of the campaign, “The track is unbelievable, it’s an amazing place and I’m really pleased we’ve gone so well. The team gave me a great car and I was able to make good progress, especially in the first race – it’s been an amazing day.”

The opening encounter at the 4.35-mile track produced by far the most impressive performance from the T-Sport driver. Starting on the National Class pole position thanks to his second fastest time in qualifying, Menasheh did lose out to Cole at the beginning of the 30-minute race but remained tight to the tail of his rival’s similar Mugen-Honda powered Dallara.

Both drivers moved up the overall order as some of the International Class runners fell back and on the fourth tour Menasheh seized the class lead. Ending the lap in 14th position overall, two spots clear of Cole, he then got ahead of T-Sport’s International Class driver Alex Brundle on lap five and moved into 12th past Formula 3 Euroseries regular Alexander Sims on the seventh tour.

Posting quicker and quicker times as round 16 progressed Menasheh comfortably pulled away from the cars behind and set the fastest National Class lap by some margin. His time of 2m17.538 seconds placed him within just seven 10ths of a second of the quickest managed by outright podium finisher Rupert Svendsen-Cook and it was also 1.1 seconds faster than Cole’s best effort.

Starting the round 17 ‘sprint’ race from 12th on the grid by virtue of his fantastic result in the opening encounter, the British-born Bahraini was run much closer by Cole in the fight for the National Class win but he raced well again to secure his second victory of the day.

Driving extremely competitively against the International Class runners and Invitational entrants, Menasheh saw off a challenge from Nathanael Berthon a couple of laps from the finish to take the chequered flag in 12th place overall – out of 26 starters. His best lap of 2m19.175 seconds was again the fastest in the National Class.

The 18th round of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series is scheduled to get underway at 13.35 (local time) tomorrow, Saturday, 31st July, at Spa-Francorchamps.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st Menasheh Idafar, 236pts; 2nd James Cole, 232pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar thoroughly enjoyed his maiden experience of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit today, Thursday, 29th July, after making a consistently smooth start to the sixth event of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at the world-renowned Belgian venue.

Both of today’s officially timed test sessions went well for the 19-year-old as he led the way in the National Class. During the wet morning run on the spectacular 4.35-mile track, Menasheh lapped with a best time of 2m41.467 seconds to head chief rival James Cole by more than two seconds.

Conditions dried towards the end of the afternoon outing, which resulted in an obvious reduction in lap times, and the British-born Bahraini posted a quickest of 2m25.950 seconds. Any comparison with Cole wasn’t possible though as he had to contend with driveshaft-related problems.

“It’s been a good day really, the weather was pretty crazy but it did dry out towards the end of the afternoon session so we had a run on slick tyres as well as wets”, said Menasheh, “It’s been a great experience so far, Spa is an amazing track – it’s unreal!”

Running in support of the prestigious 24 Hours of Spa event and also the latest round of the FIA GT1 World Championship this weekend, the race meeting marks the final European outing of the year for the British F3 regulars and is also the first of three back-to-back weekends of competition.

Spa-Francorchamps qualifying is set to take place at 09.00 (local time) tomorrow, Friday, 30th July, with round 16 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series commencing at around 12.25 and round 17 getting underway at 17.40. Round 18 is scheduled to follow on Saturday, 31st July, at approximately 13.35.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 208pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 203pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Car racing rookie Max Cornelius continued his seriously impressive debut season in fine style at Castle Combe in Wiltshire over the weekend, 17th/18th July, by taking a fantastic double victory and a further top three finish during the latest instalment of the Autosport Young Guns.

From his last six races, the 16-year-old has taken an outstanding tally of six podiums – including five richly deserved wins – and is rapidly marking himself out as a young driver with a huge amount of potential in the realms of single-seater racing.

“It’s been another fantastic weekend, I’m really pleased with the result”, said the Southwick-based youngster, “It would have been incredible to win all three races again but we can’t be greedy! Five wins from six races is a fantastic total though, I can’t wait for the next rounds now at Brands Hatch.”

During Saturday morning’s qualifying session at his most local track, Max was on course to take pole position but after easing off to preserve the life of his tyres he slipped to third with a best time of 1m07.402 seconds (98.81mph) – just two 10ths of a second shy of the top spot.

At the start of the weekend’s opening encounter on Saturday afternoon, the Somerset youngster quickly moved into second position and at the end of lap one he was just 0.8 seconds behind race leader Patryk Szczerbinski. On lap two though, he was pushed back to third by Leopold Ringbom

Max continued well in the final rostrum spot but did unfortunately lose ground to the drivers ahead on lap nine following a spin as he battled with the car’s softer suspension set-up. Remaining in third to the finish on lap 18, he at least secured his fourth podium in as many races having taken a hat-trick of victories at Pembrey in South Wales during the previous event at the end of June.

It wasn’t long before Max hit the winning trail once again though and during race two on Sunday morning, the Motaworld Racing teenager took his fourth victory of 2010 after mastering the damp conditions. Opting for stiffer suspension settings to suit his driving style, Max did a superb job.

Moving from third to second immediately, he was then passed by the fast-starting, and vastly more experienced, Jake Rattenbury. Slipping back behind Szczerbinski too, Max fought wheel-to-wheel for third through Folly Corner and up to Quarry where he made the place his own before usurping Rattenbury at Camp for second position.

Closing on race leader Ringbom, Max pressured him into a mistake on lap five at Camp and duly moved into the lead. Building a substantial cushion over the remaining 12 laps, he cruised to an eventual winning margin of almost 15 seconds – a truly dominant drive.

Heading into the dry third encounter thoroughly determined for more success, the St Laurence School pupil quickly made headway from third on the grid and with an incredibly bold move he seized the lead around the outside at Quarry. Pumping in fastest lap after fastest lap, with a best of 1m06.618 seconds (99.97mph), he went on to win by 3.3 seconds from Szczerbinski.

Max added: “I wasn’t comfortable with the softer suspension settings for the damp conditions, I wanted the car to run stiffer and as soon as we changed that everything felt much better. It was good to learn more about how the car reacts in different conditions, I’ve gained a lot of experience this weekend and to take such good results too is a major bonus.”

During the three week break between the Pembrey and Castle Combe race meetings, Max’s family were able to secure some much-needed and very gratefully received additional support from an array of local sponsors to ensure his superb debut season of car racing could continue.

Sincere thanks go to, in no particular order: Tipadel Builders Merchants, T&A Motors of Bradford on Avon, CPS Garage Services of Bradford on Avon, Upsall Property Management of Trowbridge, Giantbox Self Storage in Salisbury and Trowbridge, Frome Scaffolding, Piling Equipment Ltd of Warminster, Dan Toilet Hire of Trowbridge, H&B Tyres of Frome, Innetar Bodyshop of Frome and Compugraphic Design, also of Frome, Fussels Fine Foods of Rode and Coco’s Womenswear of Frome.

The next event on the Autosport Young Guns calendar will take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent four weeks from now, 14th/15th August. For all the latest regarding Max’s career, please visit www.maxcornelius.com and for information regarding marketing and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Jonathan Davis on +44 (0)7876 566182 or by email to lesters2@btconnect.com

Multiple British Formula 3 National Class race winner Menasheh Idafar enjoyed an excellent test outing at Snetterton Circuit in East Anglia today, Tuesday, 20th July, during which he lapped within just half a second of the outright International Class pace.

Off the back of two class victories and a further podium finish at this past weekend’s Cooper Tires British F3 International Series event at Rockingham, the 19-year-old continued his rich vein of form in today’s officially timed outing to outpace National Class rival James Cole by 0.159 seconds.

Snetterton will host the penultimate event of the 2010 season on 29th/30th August but this test gave Menasheh and his fellow championship regulars a golden opportunity to try set-up options for the upcoming event at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium 10 days from now.

During this morning’s opening 50-minute session, he lapped with a best time of 1m02.893 seconds (111.73mph) to end the outing 15th fastest overall and within just 0.9 seconds of outright series leader Jean-Eric Vergne’s timesheet-topping pace.

Producing a typically consistent performance throughout, Menasheh managed to improve his time marginally to a best of 1m02.844 seconds (111.81mph) in session two. Relative to the quicker International Class cars though, he made a bigger stride forward by ending the run 11th overall and within eight 10ths of a second of the outright pace which was this time set by Gabriel Dias.

In the third and final run, the ever-improving T-Sport driver sliced four 10ths of a second off his previous best to end the session, and the test overall, with a time of 1m02.443 seconds (112.53mph) – only 0.508 seconds shy of Vergne at the top. On combined times for the whole day, Menasheh was 14th fastest and the top National Class runner.

“I’m really happy with how everything’s gone today, our pace was really good – to be within half a second of the top International Class guys was great”, he commented, “Everyone did a lot of work on set-up for the next three races at Spa and we’re happy with what we did. Our times were really competitive, we had a strong day.”

Rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series will take place less than a fortnight from now on Friday, 30th July, and Saturday, 31st July, at Spa-Francorchamps – the home of the FIA Formula One World Championship’s Belgian Grand Prix.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 208pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 203pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

First-year Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series racer Menasheh Idafar secured his seventh National Class win of the year during round 14 at Rockingham today, Sunday, 18th July, before overcoming significant damage in round 15 to record an impressive top eight placing overall.

The National Class points lead changed twice during today’s highly-charged, incident packed races at the 1.94-mile track. First, Menasheh took a slender two point advantage following his victory in the 20-minute ‘pit-stop’ encounter but then rival James Cole moved back ahead after the second race.

At the precise halfway point of the 2010 campaign, the title battle is as finely poised as ever with just five points separating the T-Sport team-mates. Realistically, Menasheh was on course to make it a hat-trick of wins this weekend but damage sustained on the opening lap of this afternoon’s final race resulted in a loss of performance from his car.

Lining up 16th on the grid, after posting the quickest National Class time in qualifying on Saturday, the 19-year-old made a fantastic getaway and gained half a dozen places as he headed into Deene Hairpin for the first time.

As he prepared to round the turn though, an incident in the lead group of International Class cars ahead resulted in a blocked track. With nowhere to go, the cars bottled up and additional contact was inevitable – Menasheh unfortunately catching the rear of Gabriel Dias’ car which led to a hole being punctured into the nose cone of the British-born Bahraini’s Dallara.

With a number of front-runners in trouble, Menasheh managed to recover in 11th position – second in the National Class – and although the hole caused problems with a lack of speed on the straights and through the fast corners, the T-Sport racer did a fantastic job to lap competitively.

Remaining out of trouble for the remainder of the 40-minute race, he finished in an excellent eighth place overall within just 0.6 seconds of class winner Cole. Equally impressive was the fact Menasheh posted a best lap time of 1m15.477 seconds, just a few 100ths of a second shy of Cole’s best.

He commented: “The start to the second race was a bit crazy, I made the best start I ever have and got up to 10th but the accident at the hairpin slowed everyone and there was a lot of contact. I had nowhere to go and just caught the back of (Gabriel) Dias’ car which left a hole in my nose cone. I lost a lot of speed on the straights after that, it really hurt us but at least we finished and scored points.”

In this morning’s 14th round Menasheh had to cope with car damage again, this time as a result of contact from Cole at Deene on lap two as the pair diced over the class lead. In 14th place overall at the time, Menasheh sustained a left-rear puncture and bent suspension. Returning slowly to the pits, he lost a huge amount of time but after replacing the tyre he headed back out.

With Cole also requiring repairs, Menasheh managed to get back on track in the lead of the National Class which he held to the chequered flag on lap 16 for his seventh victory of the year. Impressively, even though sporting bent rear suspension, the F3 rookie lapped with a quickest time of 1m14.668 seconds (93.53mph) – matching the pace of overall British F3 points leader Jean-Eric Vergne.

“The first race tough with the tyre change and the suspension problem but my pace was still good so I was really pleased”, added Menasheh, “Taking two wins this weekend was great and the important thing is that it’s still really close in the championship between me and James (Cole).”

The next installment of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series takes place a fortnight from now on Friday, 30th July, and Saturday, 31st July, at the home of the Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps. Before then, Menasheh will be back on track in his Mugen-Honda engined Dallara F307 during official testing at Snetterton, Norfolk, this coming Tuesday, 20th July.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 208pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 203pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar sealed his sixth National Class win of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series season at Rockingham this afternoon, Saturday, 17th July, to close to within just two points of the championship lead.

Producing a very well judged and impressive performance, the 19-year-old started round 13 from 16th on the grid – second in class – but quickly moved up into the top 15 and the class lead before gaining a further position on lap two to take 14th place from International Class runner Pietro Fantin.

Comfortably matching the pace of the faster International Class cars ahead, Menasheh ran close behind the dueling pair of Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Lucas Foresti but his progress was slightly hampered at mid-distance when the recovering Jazeman Jaafar made his way back past after an earlier spin.

The Malaysian had another moment on lap 11 though, this time leading to retirement, so Menasheh moved into 13th position overall where he would remain to the chequered flag on lap 24. Crossing the line just 1.5 seconds adrift of Foresti, the T-Sport driver was 2.5 seconds ahead of National Class title rival James Cole.

In addition to closing down Cole’s advantage in the driver standings to just two points ahead of Sunday’s pair of races at Rockingham, the British-born Bahraini also posted the fastest National Class lap in round 13 with a time of 1m14.550 seconds (93.68mph).

“I’m really pleased to win, it was a good race and it was great to be able to stay with the faster cars ahead”, said Menasheh, “There wasn’t a real chance to try and get ahead of (Lucas) Foresti but the important thing was to make sure I beat James (Cole), that’s why I didn’t fight with (Jazeman) Jaafar when he came back through after his spin.”

For tomorrow’s 14th round of the campaign, which will see pit-stops feature in a British F3 race for the first time in the category’s history, Menasheh will line-up 13th on the grid due to his finishing position from today’s race.

For the headline 40-minute 15th round, he will start 16th on the grid, the National Class pole, thanks to his quickest lap in qualifying of 1m13.266 seconds (95.32mph) – just over a 10th of a second faster than Cole’s best time of the session.

Tomorrow’s first Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series encounter will get underway at 11.00 with the second race following at around 14.25.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 178pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 176pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Chevrolet Supercars ME Championship driver Raed Raffii was excited after his test with Paul Morris Motorsports today (Friday), and he wants more time in a V8 Supercar.

At the tender age of 21, Raffii tested Russell Ingall’s Supercheap Auto Commodore at Queensland Raceway and in doing so has become the youngest driver from the Middle East to ever drive a V8 Supercar.

“I am hopeful of being able to get back and do more testing and become better. I would definitely like to race V8 Supercars,” Raed enthused after climbing out of the driver’s seat.

“I can’t believe how fast V8 Supercars are, they’re very, very fast race cars.

“They are difficult cars to drive, very different to the Chevrolet Supercars I drive back home in Bahrain.

“I put a wheel off the track a couple of times; I found it hard to slow the car down, but then the team told me to apply more brake pressure; you have to stand on them (the brakes).”

Ingall and Paul Morris gave the young Bahraini plenty of tips to help him on his way.

“Paul took me out to show me how to drive a V8 Supercar properly and he was impressive, really quick,” Raffii commented.

“His and Russell’s advice was extremely helpful. It was a great experience, one I really enjoyed overall.

Morris described Raffii’s first V8 Supercar test as a success.

“V8 Supercars are unique cars to drive, but Raed has impressed us with his how he approached the test,” Morris said.

“He has genuine ability and is fast. Experience counts for a lot in this category, but I’m confident that with more testing he would quickly fit in and be competitive.”

V8 Supercars Australia CEO, Martin Whitaker, said Raffii’s introduction to V8 Supercars would lead to even greater interest in the category in the Middle East.

“I think what’s nice about today is that Raed has had the chance to realise his own dream and ambition to drive a V8 Supercar and I think the wonderful think about it is that he’s applied himself in a very professional manner,” Whitaker said.

“He’s listened to the advice; he’s taken the advice and slowly but surely bedded himself into driving the car, and from what I can see his lap times are very good.”

Whitaker said the test would hopefully eventuate to a Fujitsu Series drive for Raffii.

“And after that who knows what will happen,” he said.

“Most importantly from a Middle East perspective, it should help encourage greater interest in the races in both Bahrain and Abu Dhabi and hopefully see that translated into more spectators, more interest from investment and a greater television audience.”

Bahrain’s Raed Raffii was all smiles today after having his first taste of a full blown V8 Supercar at Queensland Raceway.

Raffii contests the Chevrolet Supercars Middle East Championship, winning three races in the 14 round 2009/10 series, grabbing five podiums and six pole positions.

Raffii tested 2005 V8 Supercar Champion Russell Ingall’s #39 Supercheap Auto Commodore, the speed of the state-of-the-art V8 Supercar impressing the 21 year old.

“Incredible – I can’t believe how fast V8 Supercars are, they’re very, very fast race cars,” said Raffii.

“They are difficult cars to drive, very different to the Chevrolet Supercars I drive back home in Bahrain.

“I put a wheel off the track a couple of times, I found it hard to slow the car down, but then the team told me to apply more brake pressure – you have to stand on them!”
Paul Morris assists Raffii at today’s test

Paul Morris assists Raffii at today’s test

He was given the opportunity to test the Supercheap Auto Commodore V8 Supercar by series winner Fahad Al Musalam, who tested for Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2008.

Raffii was given driving tips by team owner Paul Morris and Ingall.

“Paul took me out to show me how to drive a V8 Supercar properly and he was impressive, really quick,” said Raffii.

“His and Russell’s advice was extremely helpful. It was a great experience, one I really enjoyed overall.

“I am hopeful of being able to get back and do more testing and become better. I would definitely like to race V8 Supercars.”

Morris said Raffii’s first V8 Supercar test was a success.

“V8 Supercars are unique cars to drive, but Raed has impressed us with his how he approached the test,” Morris said.

“He has genuine ability and is fast.

“Experience counts for a lot in this category but I’m confident that with more testing he would quickly fit in and be competitive.”

V8 Supercars Chief Executive Officer, Martin Whitaker said Raffii’s introduction to V8 Supercars would lead to even greater interest in the category in the Middle East.

“I think what’s nice about today is that Raed has had the chance to realise his own dream and ambition to drive a V8 Supercar and I think the wonderful think about it is that he’s applied himself in a very professional manner,” Whitaker said.

“Hopefully this will develop into a chance for Raed to get a drive in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series and after that who knows what will happen.”

Teenage racer Menasheh Idafar made an impressive start to this weekend’s Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series action at Rockingham International Super Sports Car Circuit by heading the National Class battle during all three pre-event test sessions today, Friday, 16th July.

On combined times for the day, the 19-year-old ended up with the 11th fastest lap thanks to his session two best of 1m14.065 seconds (94.29mph). Placing him within just eight 10ths of a second of the outright pace, Menasheh’s quickest time was almost nine 10ths of a second to the good over the best managed by National Class title rival James Cole.

“It’s not been a bad day at all, I really enjoyed the test and although it was very windy on the oval section – meaning the times were about two seconds slower than everyone expected – we had a good day”, said Menasheh, “The second session was the best, that went really well and it was great to have been close to the top 10 overall and to have had a good gap over James.”

Beginning the day well in this morning’s opening session with a time of 1m14.669 seconds (93.53mph), the T-Sport driver was nine 10ths of a second ahead of team-mate Cole. Improving markedly during the second outing, Menasheh recorded his quickest lap of the test to go 10th overall in the session. In the third outing he posted a time of 1m14.914 seconds (93.22mph).

Heading into this weekend’s three rounds, Menasheh is just eight points shy of the top of the National Class driver standings having closed down a gap of almost 30 points during the previous British F3 event at Hockenheim in Germany nearly seven weeks ago.

Rockingham’s Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series qualifying session will get underway at around 10.30 tomorrow, Saturday, 17th July, with round 13 scheduled to commence at around 14.55.

Rounds 14 and 15 will then follow on Sunday, 18th July, at 11.00 and 14.25 respectively with the day’s opening encounter seeing British F3 competitors make history when the championship has its first ever ‘pit-stop’ race.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 163pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 155pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series racer Menasheh Idafar enjoyed a solid return to action at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit today, Tuesday, 13th July, during official testing at the Kent venue – his first ever experience of the full 2.3-mile track.

Following a lengthy break of more than six weeks since the last event at Hockenheim in Germany, the 19-year-old made the most of some essential practice time at Brands Hatch which will be the venue for the final three races of the 2010 season in late September.

During the first of today’s sessions on a drying track Menasheh lapped with a time of 1m24.588 seconds, just over a 10th of a second shy of the best managed by National Class points leader James Cole. There was little to choose between the T-Sport team-mates in session two either, Menasheh lapping within a mere five 100ths of a second of Cole with a time of 1m19.992 seconds.

“Today was ok, I hoped to be quicker and I didn’t feel as comfortable as I wanted to but it was great to drive the Grand Prix track for the first time – I really like it”, said the British-born Bahraini, “Things went smoothly and we completed some good work, I’m definitely looking forward to racing at the GP track for the first time when we go back there later in the year.”

Heading into rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the season at Rockingham in Northamptonshire this weekend, 17th/18th July, the battle over the National Class title is as tight as ever. With five class victories to his credit so far, Menasheh is aiming for a strong run at the 1.94-mile International Super Sports Car Circuit – an event which will see British F3 competitors making mid-race pit-stops for the first time.

He added: “It’ll be great to be racing again after such a long break. One of the main things I’m looking forward to at Rockingham is the pit-stop in the second race. It’s always good to experience something new. We had chance to practice some stops during the test today and it went well.”

Following pre-event testing at Rockingham this Friday, 16th July, qualifying and round 13 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series will take place on Saturday, 17th July. Round 14, the 20-minute ‘sprint’ race which now features mandatory pit-stops, and round 15 will be held on Sunday, 18th July.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 163pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 155pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography