Menasheh IdafarMenasheh Idafar underlined his ever improving pace in the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series with a career best qualifying performance at Oulton Park today, Saturday, 23rd April – but very real hopes of converting it into a round four podium were dashed after an unfortunate excursion a third of the way through the first of the weekend’s races.

Off the back of a stunning top three performance during pre-event testing on Friday, the T-Sport racer delivered on his undoubted promise with a sensational effort in qualifying this morning to post the third fastest time of 1m28.244 seconds (109.82mph) – far and away his best ever performance.

Prior to a red flag stoppage midway through the session Menasheh looked on course for a stunning pole position but in the end he had to settle for a, nonetheless superb, second row start for round four. His terrific consistency equaled his pace too, his second fastest lap of 1m28.312 seconds (109.73mph) securing third on the grid for round six on Monday.

At the beginning of this afternoon’s race, the 20-year-old made a tremendous start to out-drag front-row starter and championship leader Felipe Nasr. As they approached Old Hall, Menasheh delivered a bold pass up the inside to take second place.

Running 0.8 seconds clear of the Brazilian into lap two, the 2010 National Class Champion continued to press home an advantage over the next series of laps and by the start of the eighth tour he was over three seconds to the good.

Having posted his fastest lap of the race on lap seven, Menasheh looked increasingly strong but into Old Hall on the eighth tour of 21 the rear end of his car snapped round unexpectedly which led to a spin and heavy contact with barriers on the outside of the corner.

Bitterly disappointed to have crashed out of the race from such an outstanding position, the British-born Bahraini was still happy to have had such a competitive showing and to have confirmed his true speed at a majorly challenging track. Indeed, his best lap of 1m20.056 seconds remained the second fastest time of the entire race.

“Obviously I’m really disappointed”, he said, “But we have to be happy with how strong we were in qualifying and how quick we were in the race too. Everything felt great, I was pushing really hard but it was ok. I felt the back end of the car just come round without any warning and that was it, I was in the barrier! It’s a shame for me and the team but we showed how quick we can be.”

With a day’s break in the track activity tomorrow, Sunday, 24th April, the British F3 action will resume on Bank Holiday Monday, 25th April, with round five scheduled to start at 10.00 and round six expected to follow at 14.35. Menasheh will have to start round five from the rear of the 20-car grid due to his non-finish from today but for round six he will again line-up in a fantastic third place.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd4):
12th Menasheh Idafar, 8pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.