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Archive for August, 2010

This weekend’s round of the ATS Formula 3 Cup championship at the Nürburgring provided Swede Felix Rosenqvist with fifth and fourth place respectively in the two races contested. Rosenqvist started the first race from seventh place after encountering traffic at the end of his fastest lap in Qualifying 1, but used a spell of rain halfway through the event to fight his way up to fifth by the chequered flag. In the ensuing Race 2, the Performance Racing driver set off from third on the grid and produced a solid drive on used tyres to stay with the leaders and mirror the pace of the front-runners shod with fresh slick rubber. Eventually, Felix crossed the finish line in fourth place.

”Although I didn’t manage to claim a podium this weekend, I still have to be happy about particularly our pace in the second race,” Felix Rosenqvist says. ”I made a mistake in qualifying and destroyed the tyres I was supposed to use for Race 2, which forced me to stick with the same set I’d already done one qualifying session and one race on. It wasn’t easy to stay with the leading pack, but I think it went quite well in the end and I’m glad I was able to keep hold of fourth all through the race.”

The Nürburgring event was run in conjunction with the FIA GT1 World Championship, and marked the penultimate ATS Formula 3 Cup round of the season. Ahead of the Oschersleben finale in just over a month’s time, Rosenqvist remains locked in a battle for third overall in the championship standings – even if he lost some ground to rival Kevin Magnussen this weekend after the Dane won the first race in the Eifel mountains. Felix continues to hold fifth in the championship, 10 points behind Magnussen and six shy of 2009 ATS Formula 3 Cup runner-up Stef Dusseldorp.

”There is no point in speculating about what will or will not happen at Oschersleben,” Rosenqvist concludes. ”I will do whatever I can to wrap up third overall, but it will be tough when taking the current points deficit to Kevin into account. We definitely have the pace to do it, but the misfortune in the beginning of the season has put us on the back foot a bit. I’m excited ahead of the finale, though; I have a clear-cut target, and I won’t make it easy for Kevin and Stef!”

The final round of the 2010 ATS Formula 3 Cup championship takes place on October 1-3.

Menasheh Idafar increased his 2010 tally of race wins to 15 at Snetterton in Norfolk today, Monday, 30th August, to not only completely dominate the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series National Class but also move into the points lead ahead of next month’s all-important season finale.

In supreme form throughout the Bank Holiday weekend in East Anglia, the rookie F3 competitor was in a league of his own in terms of his National Class rivals. Added to his comfortable win during round 25 on Sunday, today’s pair of victories mean the 19-year-old has sealed a weekend hat-trick for the first time at an F3 event.

Arriving at Snetterton nine points behind chief rival, and team-mate, James Cole, Menasheh overturned the deficit with a stunning performance – especially during this afternoon’s 40 minute ‘feature’ race – to move back into the championship lead with a four point cushion.

“It’s fantastic to finally win all three races on a weekend, I’ve been wanting to do that all year so I’m really happy”, said the British-born Bahraini, “This weekend was a really important one for the championship. I needed to make sure I finished all three races but to win each one is amazing.”

Expecting to start rounds 26 and 27 ahead of Cole on the grid, Menasheh was surprised to be served with a five place grid penalty for the 40-minute feature race which came as a result of a protest from his fellow T-Sport driver in relation to a perceived on track incident during Sunday’s encounter.

Placing Menasheh 21st and last on the grid for round 27, the penalty did threaten to undermine his sparkling weekend but he shrugged it off superbly well. Making a great start, he passed several cars on the run through Riches and Sear and after closing on Cole on the run down Revett Straight, he took the outside line into the Esses to produce a brilliant pass for the class lead.

Fully committed for the move with a brave piece of driving, Menasheh was squeezed onto the grass by Cole at the exit of the Esses but the former Formula Renault UK racer kept his foot planted on the accelerator and made it through cleanly. By the end of lap one he had risen from 21st to 16th overall, three places ahead of Cole.

Running exactly the same pace as the quartet of International Class cars immediately ahead, Menasheh cruised to his third win of the weekend in style. By lap 26 he had opened up a huge 20 second margin over Cole and at the chequered flag on lap 38, the difference was over half a minute as he soundly defeated his arch rival. He also set the fastest class lap of 1m01.200 seconds.

The day’s opening race took place on a drying track after earlier rain and at the start there was a lot of debate up and down the pitlane over which tyres would prove to be the correct choice. As with the vast majority of drivers Menasheh headed out to the grid with treaded rubber on his Dallara Mugen-Honda but, like most of the others too, he opted to change to slicks on the grid.

Initially, the going was difficult for those not on wet-weather tyres as the track retained a lot of moisture for a number of laps. Even so, Menasheh handled the conditions well and moved up one place from his starting slot of 15th on lap one. Sensibly choosing not to fight the quicker International Class cars too hard, he maintained the National lead throughout.

As the surface began to dry from mid-distance, Menasheh pressed home more of an advantage over Cole and by lap 15 his lead was an impressive seven seconds as he stretched further and further away during the closing stages.

Bearing in mind how crucial a single point could be at the end of the year in terms of the destination of the title, Menasheh then purposely backed off on the penultimate tour in order to push for the fastest National Class lap of the race which he achieved with a time of 1m04.400 seconds, some 2.5 seconds quicker than Cole’s best effort.

Just three races now remain in the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series and the fight for the National Class title is as tight as ever. Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent hosts the championship finale four weeks from now over the weekend 25th/26th September.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st Menasheh Idafar, 382pts; 2nd James Cole, 378pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

Round 25 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series went completely to plan for Menasheh Idafar at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk this afternoon, Sunday, 29th August, as he eased to a comfortable National Class victory – the 13th win of his rookie F3 campaign.

Torrential rain ahead of the weekend’s first encounter resulted in a delay to the race timetable and also meant all of the drivers lined up on the grid with treaded, wet weather tyres. When the action finally got underway though, Menasheh didn’t make the start he wanted from the class pole position and slipped behind chief rival James Cole on the run to the first corner, Riches.

Determined to get back ahead as quickly as possible, the 19-year-old passed his T-Sport team-mate at turn two, Sear, and from that point on he was never headed. Initially trading quickest National Class lap times with Cole, Menasheh began to stamp his authority on proceedings as a drying line became ever more visible and at the mid-point of the race he held a two second advantage.

Pumping in quicker and quicker lap times, the British-born Bahraini moved up the overall order into 14th position as a couple of International Class runners hit problems and by lap 20 his lead over Cole was more than eight seconds.

Cole made a late-race pit-stop to switch to slick tyres with the track drying at an ever faster rate and this, unsurprisingly, enabled him to snatch away the bonus points for the fastest National Class lap. Even so, Menasheh’s impressive win – finishing in 15th place overall – means he has now closed to within just five points of Cole in the race for the 2010 British Formula 3 National Class title.

“The conditions were really bad about half an hour before the race, it was like a hurricane!”, said Menasheh, “When the race started though the track dried really quickly. My start wasn’t so good, I didn’t get away well at all and lost a place to James but into Sear I re-passed him and then went from there. It was a good race and now we’ve got the gap down to five points which is great.”

Round 26 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series will take place at around 10.40 tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday, 30th August, with the 27th round of the campaign expected to start at approximately 14.40.

Menasheh will start the first race from 15th on the grid, the National Class pole position, thanks to his result from this afternoon’s encounter. For round 27 he will line up on pole again, 16th overall, due to the fact he posted the best National Class lap of 1m01.849 seconds (113.61mph) in qualifying.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 354pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 349pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar made a great start to the penultimate race meeting of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series during official testing at Snetterton in Norfolk today, Saturday, 28th August, by setting the National Class pace and lapping within the overall top 10.

With just nine points separating the 19-year-old and National Class leader James Cole heading into the 25th, 26th and 27th rounds of the championship, the Bank Holiday weekend action could be crucial and Menasheh has started off on the right footing by out-performing his chief rival.

During the opening 55-minute session this morning, the British-born Bahraini lapped with a best time of 1m01.639 seconds (114.00mph) which placed him six 10ths of a second ahead of Cole and within an impressive half a second of James Calado’s outright International Class pace.

Rain interfered with proceedings in the afternoon and so the vast majority of drivers were unable to improve their times. Menasheh posted a best of 1m02.242 seconds (112.89mph) to end the run 14th overall, still within a second of the International Class pace and 0.5 seconds ahead of Cole.

“This weekend’s races are going to be really important so it’s good we had a strong test today”, said Menasheh, “Our pace was good and everything went well. Snetterton is one of my favourite tracks so I’m hoping we can have a really strong weekend and take away plenty of points.”

Qualifying will get underway at 11.10 tomorrow, Sunday, 29th August, with the first of the weekend’s races – round 25 – following at 15.00. On Bank Holiday Monday, 30th August, round 26 will begin at around 10.40 with round 27 commencing at approximately 14.30.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 338pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 329pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

Menasheh Idafar concluded the eighth race meeting of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series with a thoroughly dominant performance at Silverstone’s ‘Bridge’ Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 15th August, to win the National Class battle by over half a minute.

Disappointed to miss out on class victory during the round 23 ‘pit-stop’ race this morning, the British-born Bahraini focused on delivering nothing other than the win in round 24 and he duly returned to the top step of the podium in fine style.

Heading into the weekend 10 points shy of title rival James Cole, Menasheh did slip further behind following the weekend’s first two races but his superb drive in round 24 – coupled with the bonus point for fastest National Class lap – has lifted him back to within just nine points of the lead.

“I’m really pleased to have ended the weekend so well”, said the 19-year-old, “I was disappointed to miss out on winning the pit-stop race as things went really well over the first couple of laps but in this afternoon’s race everything went perfectly. Our pace was really strong and I really did enjoy it.”

Starting round 24 a long way ahead of his chief rival on the grid, thanks to a superb effort in the damp and drying qualifying session on Saturday morning, Menasheh got away well from 12th place and by the end of lap one he’d held on to 13th position overall, some eight spots ahead of Cole.

Following a short Safety Car period, necessitated after a two-car tangle at Stowe on the first lap, the re-start came on lap four and Menasheh continued to run strongly in the midst of some very quick International Class runners including Daniel McKenzie, Daisuke Nakajima and Felipe Nasr.

Pushing hard and pressing home his clear-cut advantage in the lead of the National Class, the T-Sport driver fought hard in the midfield throughout the 23-lapper and eventually finished an impressive 14th overall, a mere 0.7 seconds behind International runner Jazeman Jaafar. Notably, he took the flag over 30 seconds ahead of Cole and posted a fastest lap one second quicker than Cole’s best.

The day’s earlier encounter didn’t deliver the win Menasheh was hoping for but he still bagged a haul of valuable points with a second place finish in class – behind Cole but ahead of Mexican Juan Carlos Sistos.

Lining up 21st on the grid, due to his finishing position in Saturday’s race, Menasheh ended the first lap in 17th position right on the tail of Cole and on the second tour he passed his team-mate for 16th but then immediately made his mandatory pit-stop along with several International Class drivers.

Cole remained on track and didn’t make his stop until the end of his eighth lap but as he exited the pits he emerged fractionally ahead of Menasheh. Split by just seven 10ths of a second at the finish, the difference in pit-stop strategy proved to be the determining factor.

There is now a two week break in the British F3 calendar with the penultimate event of the season, rounds 25, 26 and 27, taking place at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk on Sunday, 29th August, and Bank Holiday Monday, 30th August.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 338pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 329pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series racer Menasheh Idafar had a frustrating start to his weekend’s racing at Silverstone’s ‘Bridge’ Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 14th August, when a late-race tangle cost him the chance of a potential National Class victory.

Clearly the class pace-setter by some margin during this morning’s qualifying session, the T-Sport driver comfortably secured pole position for rounds 22 and 24 in damp yet drying conditions and in doing so also earned a position on the sixth row of the grid overall – a tremendous effort.

Lapping with a best time of 1m49.582 seconds (104.94mph) on his final lap of the session to secure 12th spot for the third of the weekend’s races, which will take place tomorrow afternoon, the 19-year-old also achieved the same starting slot for today’s encounter with his second best lap.

Light rain ahead of round 22 did raise the possibility of drivers considering the option of starting the race on treaded wet-weather tyres but in the end only National Class points leader James Cole chose to do so – a decision he soon reversed by pitting at the end of the first of two formation laps.

Although declared a wet race, the entire field therefore started on slicks and as the lights went out Menasheh made a fantastic getaway to hold 12th place and soon after got ahead of International Class runner Alex Brundle.

With a total of 13 positions between himself and Cole in 24th, and with class newcomer Juan Carlos Sistos in 22nd place, Menasheh set about making the most of his opportunity to close down Cole’s 10-point series lead. Tyre choice and the weather would largely determine the outcome though.

On lap three rain started to fall once more but Menasheh waited until the end of the fifth tour before changing to wet tyres. He rejoined the track in 17th place overall, second in the National Class, and importantly for the title battle still ahead of Cole who pitted for treaded rubber on lap three.

Sistos, who was still on slicks, inherited the class lead after Menasheh pitted and he then chose to remain on dry tyres for the duration as the rain ceased yet again. Determined to catch the Mexican, Menasheh reeled him in with a string of much faster laps – up to 10 seconds per lap quicker – and by lap 13 only four seconds and two other drivers separated the pair.

But on the 14th tour his fantastic progress came to an abrupt end when contact with Invitation Class driver Carlos Munoz, while dicing at Club Chicane, resulted in a spin for both and a subsequent stall for Menasheh.

Fortunately he managed to fire his Mugen-Honda engine back up and although bitterly disappointed to drop to third in class, he still managed to take 12 points from the race and the additional bonus point for setting the quickest National Class lap – a time of 1m43.784 seconds (110.80mph). This has helped him limit the damage in terms of the standings with Cole’s lead only increasing to 12 points.

Speaking after the race, Menasheh said: “I’m really disappointed, I was catching (Juan Carlos) Sistos really quickly and we had a good chance to try and win the class today. Qualifying went well for us, it was important to take the two poles, and in the race the car felt really good. It’s a real shame there was the contact with (Carlos) Munoz but I need to put that behind me and focus on tomorrow.”

Round 23 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series will commence at 11.15 tomorrow, Sunday, 15th August, with round 24 set to follow at approximately 15.45. Menasheh will line up 21st on the grid for the first encounter – by virtue of his finishing position today – while for the 40-minute ‘feature’ race he’ll start in 12th place overall, the National Class pole position.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 311pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 299pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

National Class challenger Menasheh Idafar led the way during Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series testing at Silverstone this morning, Friday, 13th August, ahead of the weekend’s 22nd, 23rd and 24th rounds of the 30-race season.

Running on the Northamptonshire venue’s original 3.2-mile ‘Bridge’ Grand Prix Circuit configuration, the 19-year-old concluded the two practice outings with the 13th fastest time overall from a boosted field of 25 cars. He headed National Class championship rival James Cole by four 10ths of a second.

During the dry opening hour of testing, Menasheh steered his Dallara Mugen-Honda to a best lap of 1m42.313 seconds (112.40mph) but was then one of just five drivers to improve his pace in session two – lapping with a quickest time of 1m41.865 seconds (112.89mph).

The second period was interrupted by rainfall and red flags but Menasheh got his best time of the day in before the conditions worsened to go an impressive 10th quickest in session, significantly faster than Cole and new-coming National Class runner Juan Carlos Sistos.

Menasheh commented: “Overall we’ve had a good day, the first session was dry throughout but then the rain came part way through session two. We were able to go quicker before the track got wet so I’m happy with that. We ran on wet-weather tyres near the end but it was a really old set so we didn’t really push for any times.”

Qualifying for the Silverstone weekend will get underway at 11.00 tomorrow, Saturday, 14th August, with the first of the weekend’s races – round 22 – set to follow at 15.30. On Sunday, 15th August, the 23rd round of the season will begin at 11.15 with round 24 following at around 15.45.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 296pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 286pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

First year Formula 3 racer Menasheh Idafar returned to winning ways at Thruxton in Hampshire today, Sunday, 8th August, with a superb National Class double in rounds 20 and 21 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series.

Slipping 19 points behind chief rival James Cole on Saturday, 7th August, following a penultimate lap retirement in round 19, the British-born Bahraini bounced back superbly during today’s action with two timely and decisive victories.

During this morning’s 20th round of the season Menasheh ran in 17th position overall, two places behind Cole, on the opening lap but quickly made inroads. On the fourth tour he took the class lead from his team-mate, a lap later he passed International Class runner – and fellow T-Sport driver – Alex Brundle for 13th position and on lap five he moved into the top 12.

The 19-year-old’s progress was momentarily halted on lap 11 following a spin after contact from International driver Adderley Fong at Club Chicane. But even though the resulting delay enabled Cole to retake the National Class lead, Menasheh hit back within a lap to move back ahead and then pressed home a winning margin of around four seconds.

Lining up on the National Class pole, 15th overall, for round 21 Menasheh produced a controlled race to finish in 11th position and two laps clear of Cole who had to pit to replace a damaged front wing after getting caught up in a tangle at the chicane.

By lap five Menasheh had moved into the overall top 12 and following a Safety Car period at around one fifth race distance, he continued to run strongly. Holding 13th position comfortably heading into the final lap, a coming together between two International Class runners on the last tour enabled Menasheh to take an excellent 11th place finish overall.

Most importantly, he secured his second National Class win of the weekend to close down Cole once more. After today’s two encounters only 10 points split the T-Sport team-mates and with three events remaining, nine races in total, there is absolutely everything to play for.

“It’s been a good day, I enjoyed the races and it was great to win again – especially after Saturday as I was really disappointed not to finish that race”, said Menasheh, “Even though I had the spin in the first race I was able to pass James (Cole) quickly which was really satisfying. I’m looking forward to Silverstone now, we learned a lot again this weekend.”

The Cooper Tires British F3 International Series competitors are back in action just a week from now, 14th/15th August, at Silverstone’s ‘Bridge’ Grand Prix Circuit for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th rounds of the 2010 season.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 296pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 286pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar frustratingly missed out on his 10th National Class victory of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Thruxton in Hampshire this afternoon, Saturday, 7th August, when a penultimate lap tangle at Club Chicane forced him into retirement.

Having done all of the hard work by securing the National Class pole position in this morning’s half hour qualifying session and scorching into a clear five second lead in today’s 19th round, the T-Sport racer came to grief just over a lap from the chequered flag after contact with Alex Brundle.

Starting today’s 30-minute encounter from 15th on the grid overall, having lapped half a second quicker than class title rival James Cole in qualifying, Menasheh made a good getaway and as he held on to his top 15 placing Cole fell further back.

By lap three he was into 14th place, four spots ahead of his chief rival, and a drive-through penalty for Jazeman Jaafar on the seventh tour then allowed Menasheh to move into 13th position. Although slipping behind Carlos Huertas on lap 11 he continued to run strongly and proceeded to build up an advantage of more than five seconds over Cole.

Dominating the National Class with an excellent drive, the 19-year-old looked to have the win well within his grasp but a passing attempt around the outside of International Class runner Brundle at the chicane two laps from the finish didn’t pay off and they made contact.

It also gifted National Class rival Cole the victory and a 19-point lead in the championship standings although Menasheh did have the consolation of taking the fastest class lap of 1m08.380 seconds – within a second of the outright International Class pace set by overall race winner James Calado.

“Looking back I probably shouldn’t have gone for the move”, said the British-born Bahraini, “I led the class comfortably and should have taken the points for that, instead we have some hard work ahead now to try and close the gap again to James (Cole). I’m really disappointed as the weekend had gone so well up to that stage and we were fast in qualifying and the race.”

The 20th round of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series will begin at approximately 10.45 tomorrow, Sunday, 8th August, with round 21 following at around 15.55. Menasheh will start the opening encounter from 17th on the grid overall while for the last of the weekend’s races he will start on the National Class pole in 15th position.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st James Cole, 272pts; 2nd Menasheh Idafar, 253pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series racer Menasheh Idafar set the National Class pace during pre-event testing at Thruxton today, Friday, 6th August, ahead of this weekend’s latest three rounds of championship action.

The British-born Bahraini, who drives for Brackley-based T-Sport, led the way in a dry first session with a best time of 1m08.195 seconds (124.37mph) to head team-mate and National Class title rival James Cole by half a second in 16th place overall.

In session two, which was affected by rainfall, Menasheh posted a fastest lap of 1m09.178 seconds (122.60mph) to again emerge on top.

Today’s run marked the 19-year-old’s first ever experience of the fearsome Thruxton Circuit at the wheel of an F3 car and the test certainly proved highly beneficial in terms of gaining knowledge in both the dry and wet.

He commented: “We had a good day today, we were really quick in the wet which was great and even though we had a bit of a brake problem in the first session we were still pretty fast. We got some good experience of the track in dry and wet conditions so that could be very important for the weekend as the forecast is that the weather will be mixed again tomorrow.”

Heading into this weekend’s action at the 2.35-mile Hampshire track, the fastest circuit in the UK, tied on points with Cole, Menasheh is fully aware of the importance three consistently strong results will bring as the season enters its most crucial stage.

Qualifying will begin the track action at Thruxton tomorrow, Saturday, 7th August, at 09.05 with the first race of the weekend, round 19, getting underway at 14.30. Rounds 20 and 21 will then follow on Sunday, 8th August, at 10.45 and 15.55 respectively.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
=1st Menasheh Idafar & James Cole, 252pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.