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Archive for September, 2010

Teenage Formula 3 racer Menasheh Idafar secured his first car racing championship in superb style at a wet Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 26th September – a remarkable outright Cooper Tires British F3 International Series podium finish giving him his 18th National Class victory of the season and, with it, the 2010 title.

Ending his first season of Formula 3 action with a dream result of third place overall in round 30, the 19-year-old British-born Bahraini also achieved National Class success in this morning’s penultimate encounter to take a clean sweep of wins on the 2.3-mile Brands Hatch GP track having also won round 28 on Saturday. This matches his trio of wins at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk a month ago.

“It’s amazing, I don’t know what to say!”, said Menasheh after scorching to the 2010 National Class crown and also being awarded the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend accolade, “It’s been a fantastic year, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I want to thank all of the guys at T-Sport for doing such an incredible job – it’s a fantastic team.”

Going into the last race of the season, Menasheh held a 13 point lead over National Class rival and team-mate James Cole meaning all he had to do was finish the 40-minute encounter to become champion. In the end though, he did far more than simply drive for a finish; Menasheh delivered the performance of his career so far to climb his way through onto the full, overall podium.

Prior to the start of the race the T-Sport driver made, what soon turned out to be, an inspired call to pit for wet-weather tyres at the end of the green flag formation lap as light rain began to fall at the Kent track. As round 30 got underway, Menasheh sat in the pits and by the time he had his treaded tyres bolted on the rest of the field were heading towards turn four.

Cole led the National Class by virtue of Menasheh’s stop but the Bahraini soon moved ahead on lap two when a moment for his team-mate dropped him down the order. Holding 18th position overall, Menasheh bided his time as slick-shod cars at the front continued to pull away but when the rain worsened around mid-distance he was able to begin making inroads.

Scything his way through into the top 10 by lap 16 as more cars pitted for wets, Menasheh’s great progress continued apace and on lap 20 he was into the top six after dispatching the slick-shod International Class car of Daisuke Nakajima.

More International runners, Adriano Buzaid and Carlos Huertas, had to give best to Menasheh on laps 21 and 23 respectively and then the very real prospect of an outright podium finish became increasingly likely.

Reeling in Daniel McKenzie’s International Class car, the outgoing National Class Champion defended hard at Druids on lap 25 but Menasheh produced a fantastic cut-back at Graham Hill Bend and took third place overall from McKenzie on the run along Cooper Straight into Surtees – a remarkable performance and a drive befitting a champion.

“After we went out on the green flag lap for the last race I decided to pit for wets to play it safe as I only had to finish the race to win the title”, he said, “When the rain came more and more I was able to keep moving up the order and over the last few laps it was amazing, I couldn’t believe it when I got past (Daniel) McKenzie for third! It’s been a perfect weekend and a perfect end to the season.”

This morning’s 29th round was a more straight-forward affair with no interruptions from the rain but on the opening lap Menasheh did receive some slight contact to the rear of his car, causing some minor damage. Starting on the National Class pole position, 11th overall, he made a clean getaway and although slipping a few places after the contact, he still held the class advantage.

Running in 15th place, four spots ahead of Cole, he managed to see off the challenge of International Class runner Hywel Lloyd and in doing so finished 11 seconds clear in the National Class to take yet another victory.

Final 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
Champion: Menasheh Idafar, 435pts; 2nd James Cole, 418pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

Menasheh Idafar extended his National Class lead to 10 points at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 25th September, with his 16th victory of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series.

Producing an excellent performance on his first ever race weekend at the 2.30-mile Kent track, the British-born Bahraini sealed the class pole position for today’s 23-lap encounter by seven 10ths of a second and went on to finish round 28 an impressive 11th overall.

“It’s great to start the weekend in this way”, said the T-Sport driver, “We did just what we needed to do in qualifying to take the class pole and to then win, and have pole for the final two races as well, is really good.”

With no practice at Brands Hatch ahead of today’s running, the competitors headed straight into qualifying this morning where Menasheh posted the fastest National Class time of 1m18.692 seconds (105.26mph) – giving him pole position for the third of the weekend’s races, round 30, by seven 10ths of a second from chief rival James Cole.

His second best time of 1m18.710 seconds (105.23mph) again gave the 19-year-old pole for today’s race on the sixth row of the grid, once more seven 10ths of a second to the good over Cole, and he made it count at the start by getting ahead of International Class runner Jazeman Jaafar to end lap one in 11th place overall.

Although coming under intense pressure throughout the race, first from Jaafar and then from Jay Bridger when Jaafar ran wide through the gravel at Druids on lap seven, Menasheh soaked it up brilliantly and saw off the attention.

Holding on to 11th position for the duration, he took the chequered flag half a second clear of Bridger at the finish and also set the fastest class lap of 1m19.503 seconds (104.18mph) to secure a bonus championship point.

Importantly, Menasheh’s performance meant he finished the first of the weekend’s races six positions ahead of Cole and with the finishing order of round 28 determining the grid for round 29, he will begin Sunday morning’s encounter with the class pole once again.

Round 29 of the 2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series will take place at 11.20 tomorrow, Sunday, 26th September, with the final race of the season, round 30, following at 15.45.

2010 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series ‘National Class’ standings:
1st Menasheh Idafar, 403pts; 2nd James Cole, 393pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

National Class points leader Menasheh Idafar declared himself satisfied with the second day of Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series testing at Rockingham today, Wednesday, 22nd September – the final track time the championship competitors will have ahead of this weekend’s all-important season finale.

During the morning he produced a best time of 1m13.984 seconds (94.39mph) but unfortunately missed the optimum window for his new tyres following a minor excursion. In the afternoon, the 19-year-old posted a quickest time of 1m14.217 seconds (94.10mph) on used rubber to end that session 12th overall.

Concentrating on set-up work for the final three rounds of the season at Brands Hatch this weekend, 25th/26th September, Menasheh and his T-Sport team completed a good range of preparation today to cap off a rewarding couple of days in Northamptonshire.

“I’d have liked to be the fastest National Class driver again today but we weren’t able to get the most from the new tyres in the morning”, said the British-born Bahraini, “The most important thing today was to understand the set-up for Brands Hatch and to get comfortable with that, I’m looking forward to the weekend now.”

The Cooper Tires British F3 International Series paddock now travels south to Kent for the final three races of the 2010 season at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. Qualifying will take place at 10.35 on Saturday, 25th September, with round 28 getting underway at 14.05.

On Sunday, 26th September, round 29 will commence at around 11.20 with the final race of the 2010 championship scheduled to start at approximately 15.45.

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

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series racer Menasheh Idafar got his preparations for this weekend’s 2010 season finale off to a great start at Rockingham in Northamptonshire today, Tuesday, 21st September, during the first of two days’ official testing at the 1.94-mile track.

The 19-year-old, who heads into the last three races at Brands Hatch leading the National Class standings, out-performed chief rival James Cole in both the morning and afternoon sessions and concluded the outing just 1.2 seconds shy of the outright International Class pace.

During session one, Menasheh posted a best time of 1m13.785 seconds (94.65mph) to lead the way in the National Class and place 13th overall while during the afternoon run, his quickest lap was a time of 1m13.799 seconds (94.63mph).

On combined times for the day, the T-Sport driver concluded the outing 17th overall thanks to his morning best and, as was the case throughout the test, he ended up half a second faster than team-mate and title rival Cole.

“It’s been a really good day and just the start we wanted”, said the first-year Formula 3 racer, “It all went well and although I wanted to be faster in the afternoon, to end both sessions half a second quicker than James (Cole) was good and it’s a great starting point for tomorrow.”

Rockingham’s International Super Sports Car Circuit will host a second day of testing tomorrow, Wednesday, 22nd September, before the teams and drivers decamp to Brands Hatch in Kent for the all-important season finale this 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.

New Zealand Porsche motor racing driver Jono Lester has finished in 13th position in his debut in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup on Sunday, contested at the Monza circuit in support of the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The 20-year old kiwi was part of the 32-strong Supercup field, the largest grid in five seasons of racing, competing in the Braun-backed Porsche AG Guest Car.

Lester adapted quickly to the unfamiliar Monza circuit in Friday’s 45-minute free practice session, reacclimatising himself behind the wheel of a Porsche GT3 Cup Car before qualifying in position 20, 1.357 seconds shy of pole sitter Nick Tandy.

“My first reaction to the Monza circuit was made even more exciting by the fact that it was the first time I’d driven a race car since February,” Lester said.

“Tackling Ascari and approaching Parabolica for the first time was just incredible, as was the level of competition of the Porsche Supercup grid.”

Lester made a clean start in the 14-lap race, and was locked in battle for the duration with 2005 Supercup champion Alessandro Zampedri, former Porsche Factory Driver Sascha Maassen and Polish entrant Kuba Giermaziak.

Such was the frantic race environment the Supercup has become famous for, Lester traded place, paint and panel to cross the line in 13th position at the finish, nine seconds shy of race winner Nick Tandy and 4/10ths of a second off the fastest race lap.

“It’s been a remarkable day – I just can’t put into words just how awesome this championship is. For a 30-minute race to be all over in what seemed like a heartbeat gives you an idea of just how much I had to focus out there.

“I drove a clean race, just joining the dots and making sure the tyres held up for the duration. I raced hard but took few risks as this was always going to be a race of attrition and I needed to ensure I was there at the chequered flag.

“It’s just another level altogether. The attacks were coming left, right and centre and it was just a pleasure to be a part of. I have to extend my thanks to Porsche for this opportunity and now that I’ve had my taste of the Supercup, I can see why it’s such an addictive flavour!”

New Zealand Porsche motor racing driver Jono Lester will make his debut in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup at the final round of the 2010 championship, to be contested at the Monza circuit in Italy on the 9th to 12th of September.

The 20-year old GT3 Cup Challenge regular has been invited by Porsche AG to compete in their Guest Car at the Italian Grand Prix, on the back of the Porsche Motorsport Talent Scholarship he was awarded in February.

“To join the ranks of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup is reward enough for the efforts we have all put in over the last 18-months,” Lester said. “But to do so at Monza – one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, so rich in motorsport history and with the atmosphere generated by the Tifosi – that’s just something else!”

Lester has spent time testing with the championship-leading Lechner Racing team throughout Europe and the Middle East over the last 18-months, but hasn’t competed in a motor race since the 2009 Hamilton 400.

“I’m chomping at the bit. Hamilton was a long time ago, but in hindsight it was the best thing for me as a driver.

“I’ve had time to re-evaluate myself, my attitude, my approach to my racing; and the relationship I’ve forged with the Lechner Racing Team is one that I value really highly.”

Acclimatising to a new harder compound tyre being used in the Supercup in 2010 will be an important factor in the single 45-minute Official Practice session at Monza, however Lester is not unfamiliar to the new 2010-spec 911 GT3 having driven the car in Bahrain and Italy previously.

“I’m ready for Monza. I’m as ready as I ever will be. We are going over there with a job to do. I’m motivated, but I don’t expect to win or be on the podium. I have a realistic set of goals which I’ll keep to myself. And if I achieve them, you’ll see it in the big grin on my face!”

Other guest starters for the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup this year include 2009 Formula Le Mans champion Nico Verdonck, and Mathias Lauda, son of three time Formula One World Champion, Niki Lauda.

Race weekend at Nürburgring, 18 years old Riccardo Brutschin from STROMOS Artline Racing had two wins in the trophy-races.

In both qualifications at Nürburgring Riccardo was the fastest of the ATS Formula 3 trophy drivers, he took the pole-positions.

In the first and second race he also had the fastest racing laps of the trophy-pilots, he finished both races with the first place on the podium.

After the first race, he got 10 points for the championship leading now with 132 points, he already won the championship three races before the end of the season.

On Sunday morning Ex F 1 driver Mika Salo came to gratulate Riccardo for the winning of the Championship and wished him good luck for the following race.

“I had two perfect qualifications and races, I got the Championship before the end of the season. It was a great event because the race was run in conjunction with the FIA GT 1 World-Championship. I had great battles with the Cup-drivers Sandro Zeller (SUI), Renè Binder (AUT) and Kevin Kleveros (SWE).”

“For the final race of the ATS Formula 3 Cup championship at Oschersleben, I will also give my best in the qualifications and the races”, so the new ATS Formula 3 Trophy Champion Riccardo Brutschin

A perfect weekend with pole position and three race wins in the penultimate round of the German ADAC Formula Masters Championship at the Nurburgring circuit has seen young Kiwi (Tauranga) driver, Richie Stanaway (18) win the seven-round German ADAC Championship with one round (three races to go).  Following the Nurburgring round his total of 315 points cannot be beaten, no matter what happens in the final round at the Oschersleben circuit in October.

“What a fantastic way to win this championship. I must give huge thanks to my Ma-Con team for giving me a perfect car for this round, and the great job they have done all season, and with that I was able to win 12 of the 18 races. I also have to thank all those people in Europe and New Zealand who have helped and supported me to win this championship,” said Stanaway.

Richie won each of the races comfortably, the first race from his team-mate and flat-mate, William Vermont (France) and Dominik Baumann (Austria), the second from Vermont and Patrick Schranner (Germany) and the third from Schranner and Vermont.

Points: Stanaway 315, Schranner 239, Farmbacher (Germany) 171, Vermont 146, Wehrlein (France) 131, Tweraser (Austria) 117.

As of now Richie has lead the most distance, won the most races, and finished on the podium more times than anyone else in the history of the series.

Next (final) round: October 2-3 Oschersleben.?

Burgeoning talent Max Cornelius just missed out on winning the Autosport Young Guns title by the slimmest of margins at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire on Sunday, 29th August – a dramatic final corner tangle in the last race of the season proving to be the decisive moment.

Driving brilliantly to the seventh race victory of his rookie campaign during the opening encounter at the UK’s fastest track, the 16-year-old karting graduate put the title well within reach ahead of the final round. However, an incident with arch rival Patryk Szczerbinski at Club Chicane meant Max just missed out on becoming a champion in his first season of car racing by a mere four points.

The Motaworld Racing driver, who resides just 40 miles from Thruxton in Southwick on the Somerset/Wiltshire border, had his eighth win – and the championship – in his sights as he nosed ahead of Szczerbinski for the lead into the last turn but the pair made unfortunate contact, ending their race.

Understandably disappointed with the conclusion to his final weekend in Autosport Young Guns, Max nonetheless has the consolation of being the driver with the most wins over the course of the season – a tremendous tally of seven victories from the last 10 starts. During the second Thruxton encounter he also posted the fastest race lap of the weekend, 1m18.356 seconds, to underline his consistently rapid pace.

“Obviously, it’s really disappointing to miss out on the title this way but we’ve given it a really good shot since we joined the championship and to win more than half the races I started in my first car racing season is great”, said Max.

“Congratulations to Patryk, we’ve had some close battles and it’s been good fun racing with him. I want to thank all the guys at Motaworld for doing a great job and I also need to say a huge thank you to my family and to the fantastic sponsors who have made this season possible.”

Max’s weekend started firmly on the back-foot when an engine failure during testing on Friday, after just a couple of laps, meant he was unable to complete any set-up work. Even so, he did a great job during qualifying to secure a spot on the front row of the grid alongside Szczerbinski.

Having made some changes to the settings ahead of raceday, Max aimed for nothing less than the win during the first encounter and he delivered superbly during a frantic, back and forth battle with Szczerbinski throughout the 15 lap duration.

The lead changed hands at least a dozen times over the course of the race with nothing between the two championship protagonists at all. Dicing hard and with average lap speeds of well over 100mph, Cornelius headed into the final lap in second place but took the lead back on the run up Woodham Hill to claim a very well deserved seventh win of 2010.

With his first single-seater campaign now wrapped up, Max is considering a range of options for his next step on the motor racing ladder. With potential opportunities to compete in Asia in Formula BMW and to undertake a test programme in the UK in Formula Renault and Formula 3, there is plenty for him to think about over the coming weeks – visit www.maxcornelius.com for all the latest.

His participation in the Autosport Young Guns finale was made possible by the vital support of, in no particular order: CPS Garage Services of Bradford on Avon; Upsalls Property Management, Giantbox & Dan Toilet Hire of Trowbridge; Auto Components (Westbury) Ltd, Club Ice, Stairway Joinery, Kevin’s Menswear from Westbury; Frome Scaffolding, Innetar Bodyshop, Compugraphic Design, Café Le Strada, Part 2 Hair Dresser, Lettings-R-Us, Telefringe, Train Station Gym of Frome; Polar Thermal Products of Warminster & Hatton Hotels Group.