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Menasheh Idafar - Spa-FrancorchampsMenasheh Idafar concluded a very difficult weekend at Spa-Francorchamps with a positive race finish during round 21 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series this afternoon, Saturday, 30th July.

Unable to build on the promise shown in pre-event testing during qualifying and the first two races yesterday, the British-born Bahraini was determined to secure a strong result and he did manage to achieve that – battling through from the back of the grid to end up the 14th placed British F3 runner.

Along with forming the seventh race meeting of the British F3 campaign, this weekend’s event in Belgium has also been part of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy meaning several drivers also took part from the F3 Euroseries.

In some ways that was bad news for Menasheh, when taking into account his unfortunate excursion in qualifying on Friday, as it meant starting today’s race in 27th position on the final row of the gird and with a lot of hard work ahead in the 40-minute encounter.

Making a good getaway and threading his Dallara-Volkswagen neatly through the opening lap, the 20-year-old made his way into the overall top 20 but slipped back to 22nd on lap two. Passing Pietro Fantin on lap three to take 21st place, a moment on lap four lost Menasheh the spot but he gained again when Pipo Derani encountered problems.

Running just outside the top 20 at mid-distance, on lap 10 the T-Sport driver moved into 20th place when F3 Euroseries competitor Carlos Munoz pitted and Menasheh stayed there to the chequered flag on lap 17 – therefore finishing 14th of the British F3 drivers.

“I’m happy we managed to get through the race and finish after the way things went yesterday”, said Menasheh, “It’s been a really tough weekend, we started off well in testing but then it all started to go wrong. Coming through from the back today wasn’t too bad, especially as our tyres weren’t great after the contact in the race yesterday. It’s been a positive end.”

There is now a five week break in the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series calendar with rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the season seeing the championship return to the UK with a visit to Rockingham in Northamptonshire on 3rd/4th September.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd21):
15th Menasheh Idafar, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - SpaTwo enforced retirements during rounds 19 and 20 of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Spa-Francorchamps today, Friday, 29th July, dealt a bitter blow to Menasheh Idafar’s hopes for the weekend – all after having made a very promising start in pre-event testing.

Following a strong practice run on Thursday, 28th July, where he was the eighth quickest British F3 racer – the action in Belgium also featuring drivers from the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy – the 20-year-old hoped for a similarly impressive performance in qualifying.

Unfortunately, an excursion on his fifth lap of the session meant Menasheh was unable to post a representative time and so he had to start the first of the weekend’s encounters from the tail end of the grid and with a huge task on his hands to carve his way through the 28-car field.

Undeterred, the T-Sport driver produced a sensational opening lap to climb to the fringe of the top 20 and after gaining further places on the next two tours he looked set to make significant inroads. Rising as high as 17th position, Menasheh was involved in a moment on lap six which dropped him to 20th but his recovery ended soon after when he was pitched into retirement on lap nine.

With the finishing order from race one determining the grid for race two, round 20, he again had a fight on his hands – especially with the race being the shortest of the weekend at just 20-minutes duration. Once more, his start was good and the British-born Bahraini climbed from 25th on the grid into 18th position but contact on lap five resulted in a visit to the pits and another non-finish.

“It’s been a really disappointing day but there’s always a chance of contact when you’re starting so far down”, said the Dallara-Volkswagen driver, “We just need to give it our best shot tomorrow and see what happens. We start at the back again so it’ll be tough but we’ll try really hard to end the weekend with a good result.”

Round 21, the final race of the Spa-Francorchamps weekend, will take place at 12.40 (local time) tomorrow, Saturday, 30th July. Due to forming part of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy, the action will also be screened live across Europe on Motors TV – check www.motorstv.com for details.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd20):
15th Menasheh Idafar, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - Spa-FrancorchampsOfficial testing ahead of this weekend’s Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series races at Spa-Francorchamps concluded at the Belgian track this afternoon, Thursday, 28th July, with T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar posting a very promising eighth quickest time.

With the final European-based event of the British F3 season also being combined with the latest round of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy, several invitational drivers from the F3 Euroseries are taking part and so on overall timings Menasheh was still a highly creditable 15th fastest.

This morning’s opening session took place on a drying track and the 20-year-old produced a best lap time of 2m16.431 seconds in his Dallara-Volkswagen to finish the run within just a second of the overall top six.

In the end, that proved to be his only meaningful running as an afternoon deluge left the track extremely wet for the second outing. Conditions were so bad it wasn’t really worth pushing for lap times and so Menasheh chose the sensible option by not taking any risks. He did venture out but only for a handful of laps, the same approach adopted by most of the 28 car field.

“We only did three or four laps this afternoon, it was really wet and no point trying to do anything as it wasn’t worth the risk”, said the British-born Bahraini, “This morning went well, being the eighth quickest of the British championship guys was good. The track got quicker towards the end but we had used our tyres early so I’m happy where we finished.”

Qualifying for the seventh race meeting of the season will begin at 09.50 (local time) tomorrow, Friday, 29th July, with round 19 taking place at 13.15 and round 20 following at 16.50. On Saturday, 30th July, round 21 will get underway at approximately 12.40.

This weekend’s British F3 action is taking place a day earlier than would ordinarily be the case due to the fact the championship is running in support of the Total 24 Hours of Spa endurance race.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd18):
=13th Menasheh Idafar & Hywel Lloyd, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - Paul Ricard HTTTMenasheh Idafar emerged from two incident-packed, and wildly unpredictable, Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series races at Paul Ricard in France today, Sunday, 17th July, with a pair of very hard-fought top 12 results.

As during Saturday’s 16th round, until his unfortunate exhaust failure became apparent, the 20-year-old performed very well indeed in both encounters and certainly deserved at least one points finish from the weekend.

The beginning to round 17 was nothing short of chaotic after a car stalled and the lights sequence on the gantry over the start/finish straight didn’t make it clear whether the action had been aborted or whether racing was underway. Some drivers thought the former was the case while others believed the race to have started, leading to unsurprising multi-car contact.

Menasheh was one of those able to avoid any issues and so at the re-start he profited from three cars ahead being removed the equation. Nonetheless, he delivered a strong opening to end lap one in 15th position just 0.2 seconds behind team-mate Yann Cunha and by the end of the second tour he was up into 13th place – all after having started at the back of the grid due to Saturday’s retirement.

With the race distance limited to just six laps after the earlier problems, there wasn’t a great deal of time available for Menasheh to try and make his way much further up the order but he did grab 12th place from Adderly Fong on the third tour to cap a highly impressive drive.

The British-born Bahraini made a great start to round 18, for which he qualified in 12th position, but some early contact delayed him and also led to steering damage which compromised his pace and turning ability into right-handers.

Several spinners at the start resulted in the Safety Car being deployed for quite some time with the action not truly getting underway until lap six. Running in 13th place, Menasheh piled pressure onto Pipo Derani and then gained two positions on lap seven when Derani and Kotaro Sakurai ran wide and dropped back.

Although slipping to 13th position as the race passed mid-distance, the T-Sport driver continued to fight hard and ran close behind title contender Lucas Foresti. On lap 12 though, contact between the pair resulted in a damaged floor to Menasheh’s Dallara-Volkswagen and although able to recover he lost a lot of time. Even so, a couple of incidents during the closing stages enabled him to regain 12th.

“I made a very good start to the second race but there was contact from (Carlos) Huertas and that damaged my steering, I couldn’t put enough lock on in the right-hand corners so that made things really tough”, explained Menasheh, “Then, after the thing with (Lucas) Foresti, the floor got damaged but at least I could continue and we made the finish.

“The first race today was really messy at the start, my pace wasn’t so good but we did manage to come through to a decent enough result. It’s been a tough weekend but Spa is next and I’m really looking forward to that, we were good there last year in the National Class car so hopefully we can have a good run this time in the A Class.”

The seventh event of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, rounds 19, 20 and 21, will take place at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, 29th July, and Saturday, 30th July.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd18):
=13th Menasheh Idafar & Hywel Lloyd, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - Paul RicardExhaust failure cost Menasheh Idafar a near-certain points finish at Paul Ricard HTTT this afternoon, Saturday, 16th July, during round 16 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series – a bitterly disappointing outcome for the T-Sport racer after delivering one of his best drives of 2011.

Qualifying with the 11th fastest time for the first of the weekend’s three encounters at the French track, the 20-year-old made a good start and immediately set about pressuring the group of drivers ahead as an entertaining multi-car battle developed.

Eager to break into the points-paying positions, Menasheh took 10th place at the expense of Pietro Fantin on lap three and then set about closing the gap to Jazeman Jaafar. The Malaysian headed Menasheh by 1.8 seconds at the start of the sixth tour but inside two laps the 2010 National Class Champion had reduced Jaafar’s advantage to nothing.

The British-born Bahraini wasted no time in taking ninth position and he then set about lining-up an attack on eighth placed Lucas Foresti who was just 0.9 seconds further up the road. Unfortunately for Menasheh, his hopes of continuing his tremendous progress were shattered on lap 10 when his Dallara-Volkswagen dramatically slowed due to a rare exhaust failure.

Forcing an immediate return to the pits and subsequent retirement, Menasheh ended the race thoroughly disappointed but nonetheless heartened by his terrific performance and pace which was easily good enough for a top eight finish today.

“We were really unlucky this afternoon, the exhaust just broke and there was nothing we could do about it”, he explained, “It’s a real shame as we’d been having a really good race. I made a good start, I was really happy with the car and we had good pace.

“When I got past Jazeman (Jaafar) I was sure I was going to get (Lucas) Foresti but then we had the problem with the exhaust and the car slowed straight away. If we can have the same pace tomorrow that we showed in today’s race, we should be able to fight hard again for some good finishes.”

Round 17 of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series will begin at around 10.00 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 17th July, with round 18 following at 16.45. Due to his unfortunate retirement from this afternoon’s encounter, Menasheh will start the first race from the last row of the grid while for race two he will line-up in 12th position.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd16):
13th Menasheh Idafar, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - Paul Ricard TestingCooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series racer Menasheh Idafar produced a consistently strong performance on his debut run at Paul Ricard HTTT in France today, Friday, 15th July, during official testing ahead of the weekend’s sixth race meeting of the 2011 season.

Lapping with a time of 2m02.919 seconds during this morning’s first 45-minute session to go a highly respectable 11th on the timesheets, ahead of championship front-runner and multiple race winner Lucas Foresti, the T-Sport racer was similarly competitive in session two.

Finding an additional seven 10ths of a second during the afternoon run in his Volkswagen-powered Dallara, the 20-year-old improved to a best lap of the day of 2m02.240 seconds which placed him 11th quickest once again.

Rounding out the day within just 1.2 seconds of the outright pace, Menasheh thoroughly enjoyed his first ever experience of the French track and ahead of tomorrow’s all-important qualifying session the reigning National Class Champion is focused on continuing his good early form.

“It’s been a pretty good start”, said Menasheh, “Paul Ricard is a great track, especially the first sector, and I’m happy we were consistent in both sessions. It would have been nice to end the day in the top 10 but we weren’t far away and we did find just under 0.7 seconds this afternoon. We know where we should be able to improve for tomorrow so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Qualifying will take place at Paul Ricard tomorrow, Saturday, 16th July, at 10.00 (local time) with the first of the weekend’s races, round 16, set to get underway at 15.00. On Sunday, 17th July, round 17 is expected to begin at 10.00 with round 18 following at approximately 16.45.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd15):
11th Menasheh Idafar, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - NurburgringMenasheh Idafar departed the Nurburgring in philosophical mood this afternoon, Sunday, 3rd July, after a hugely difficult weekend of Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series action which culminated in a brace of highly unfortunate non-finishes in rounds 14 and 15 of the season.

With his first ever experience of the German track not getting off to the best of starts in round 13 on Saturday, 2nd July, the 20-year-old aimed to get as much track time under his belt as possible during today’s pair of races but contact from other drivers in both outings ruined those hopes.

Making a great start to this morning’s encounter, Menasheh carved his way through from a lowly 19th on the grid – the starting position determined from the result of Saturday’s race – into 14th on the opening lap.

After a two-lap Safety Car period, racing resumed and the T-Sport driver continued his progress by moving into 13th place. Unfortunately though, contact while being challenged on lap five resulted in a major excursion at a speed of around 135mph – thankfully Menasheh emerged unscathed.

Starting round 15 from 17th on the grid, the British-born Bahraini had another big task on his hands to work his way through the order but his chances were ended at the second corner when yet more contact from a rival competitor led to an enforced pit-stop for Menasheh.

Re-emerging a couple of laps down on the leaders, his race disappointingly ended soon after with a dramatic visit to the gravel trap at Ford Curve. Marking his most difficult and trying weekend of the season so far, Menasheh is now focused on looking ahead to the next three rounds in two weeks.

“It’s not been a great weekend at all”, he commented, “It’s really disappointing how things turned out – everything that could go wrong did! I didn’t have a chance to see if we’d managed to improve the car for today because of the contact in both races so that was frustrating, it’s just been one of those weekends. I’m looking forward to Paul Ricard now, hopefully we’ll have a better time there.”

Paul Ricard HTTT, situated in Le Castellet in the south of France, will host rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series on 16th/17th July.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd15):
11th Menasheh Idafar, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - NurburgringMixed conditions at Germany’s Nurburgring today, Friday, 1st July, brought contrasting fortunes for Menasheh Idafar during free practice ahead of the weekend’s 13th, 14th and 15th rounds of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.

Although having never competed at the German Grand Prix track before, the 20-year-old quickly got up to speed in the wet morning session and ran comfortably inside the top seven before a minor excursion in his Dallara-Volkswagen unfortunately ended his involvement 15 minutes early.

He therefore concluded the opening practice run 13th fastest overall with a time of 2m12.709 seconds, three 10ths of a second ahead of multiple race winner Lucas Foresti and just a second shy of the top six.

With the circuit having dried fully in time for the afternoon outing, the British-born Bahraini aimed for at least as good a performance but difficulties with oversteer – in the first sector of the lap in particular – limited him to an uncharacteristic 18th quickest. Nonetheless, he was the fastest of the T-Sport drivers with a best time of 1m55.928 seconds.

Off the back of his second podium of the season at Brands Hatch two weeks ago, Menasheh is keen to keep the momentum moving on his debut appearance at the Nurburgring. Ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session and first race of the weekend, he’ll be working hard with the team’s engineers to unlock some improved performance.

“In the wet first session we were ok”, said Menasheh, “I was seventh fastest before I had a slight moment but I ended up losing the last 15 minutes so dropped to 13th. There was no big damage though so it was ok. This afternoon we had a lot of oversteer in the dry, especially in sector one, so we’re going to go through all of the data and see what we need to do to improve for tomorrow.”

British F3 action will resume at the Nurburgring at 10.25 (local time) tomorrow, Saturday, 2nd July, with qualifying for the fifth event of the season ahead of the first of the weekend’s races, round 13, at 15.25. Rounds 14 and 15 will take place on Sunday, 3rd July, at 10.35 and 14.00 respectively.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd12):
1st Felipe Nasr, 154pts; 11th Menasheh Idafar, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh Idafar - Brands GP PodiumT-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar produced a terrific performance during the 11th round of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit today, Sunday, 19th June, to secure his second podium of the season – a mere 0.6 seconds shy of a maiden race victory.

Beginning the first of the day’s two races at the 2.43-mile Kent track on the front row of the ‘reverse’ grid, having finished in ninth place during round 10 on Saturday, the 20-year-old got away well in second place but a multi-car tangle on the start-line resulted in a lengthy Safety Car period.

When racing resumed on lap six, Menasheh had his best opportunity to try and wrest the lead from pole position starter Harry Tincknell but the leader made no mistakes into Paddock Hill Bend and kept the door closed.

Shadowing Tincknell closely for the remainder of the race, the British-born Bahraini was never more than 0.8 seconds behind and took the flag on lap 13 some 1.7 seconds clear of third placed finisher Carlos Huertas.

“I’m really happy to be back on the podium, it was a good race and we were really quick but I just couldn’t find a way past Harry (Tincknell)”, said Menasheh, “My best chance was at the re-start, it was then or not at all really, but he didn’t make a mistake. Second is great though, the team gave me a really good car and this is a good result for all of us.”

Round 12, the final race of the weekend, wasn’t as fruitful for the Dallara-Volkswagen driver when a potential top 10 finish went begging following an excursion into the gravel which led to a highly unfortunate retirement.

Heavy rain ahead of the race meant wet-weather settings and treaded tyres were the requirement and at the start Menasheh got away cleanly in his grid position of 13th place. Gradually working his way into the top 10 prior to a Safety Car period on lap nine, all looked good for another points finish but on lap 17 his race came to an early conclusion following a minor mistake.

Coupled with his ninth place finish on Saturday, Menasheh’s second position in the first of today’s races has enabled him to move into a clear 11th overall in the championship standings two points to the good over his closest rival.

There is now just a fortnight to wait until the next outing for British F3 with rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 2011 season taking place at the Nurburgring in Germany over the weekend 2nd/3rd July.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd12):
1st Felipe Nasr, 154pts; 11th Menasheh Idafar, 27pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh IdafarCooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series racer Menasheh Idafar produced an excellent drive during the 10th round of the season at a rain-hit Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 18th June, to take a well deserved ninth place finish – up from 13th on the grid.

The result, which sees the 20-year-old climb into equal 11th position in the championship, came after a good call by his T-Sport team on when to pit for slick tyres as the track dried towards the mid-point of the 21-lapper.

Rainfall ahead of round 10 ensured every one of the drivers started on wet-weather tyres and at the beginning Menasheh made fantastic progress to move up from the seventh row of the grid – where he had qualified with a lap of 1m18.982 seconds (110.90mph) – into the top 10.

Running strongly, the rapid Dallara-Volkswagen driver climbed into ninth before pitting for slicks at the end of lap nine as a drying line became ever more prevalent around the challenging 2.43-mile Kent circuit.

The decision proved to be a good one and after emerging back on track on the fringe of the top 10, he made his way back into ninth four laps from the finish. Remaining there to the chequered flag, Menasheh ended the first of the weekend’s races 4.5 seconds clear of his closest pursuer.

“It was a really good race today, we had great pace and pitted for slicks at exactly the right time so big thanks to the team – the pit-stop was perfect”, said the 2010 National Class Champion, “I’m very happy with ninth place, it’s a good result from where we started and now I’m really looking forward to tomorrow as I start in second for the first race!”

With the finishing order from today setting the grid for tomorrow morning’s race, with the exception of the top 10 which is reversed, Menasheh will line-up on the front-row of the grid alongside pole-sitter Harry Tincknell. For the third and final race of the weekend he will start in 13th position.

Round 11 of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series will get underway at 10.35 tomorrow, Sunday, 19th June, with round 12 following at approximately 14.10.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd10):
1st Felipe Nasr, 129pts; =11th Menasheh Idafar & Hywel Lloyd, 18pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.