General Formula 3Open Wheel

Race three damage stops Menasheh Idafar clean sweep

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British born Bahraini Menasheh Idafar took two National Class wins out of the three on offer over the British Formula Three weekend at Rockingham, and only missing out on a clean sweep by fractions of a second.

The wins did not come easily for the 19-year-old, though he only had this T-Sport teammate James Cole to contend with.

Starting the second race of the weekend, Sunday's first from one place ahead of Cole, by virtue of his race one class win – by a scant margin of 2.5 seconds – the pair battled hard in the opening laps, coming into contact at the Deene hairpin on lap.

The damage left Idafar with a punctured left-rear Cooper tyre and damaged suspension, forcing him to limp the Mugen-Honda engine car back to the pits.

On a weekend when the class points lead swapped back and forth between the pair it was fortunate that the collision had also forced Cole to bring his similar car back to the pits for repairs. For a time both cars sat in the pits in adjoining pitstalls as T-Sport men battled to return their drivers to the fray.

It was Idafar who got back on track first, continuing on despite the damage to the car's suspension to set the fastest National Class lap of the race (1:14.668) only fractionally short of the pace of Jean-Eric Vergne, the International Class championship leader.

The final race of the weekend saw both Idafar and Cole mixing with those in the premier class, after a cluster of incidents on the opening lap jumbled the field.

The incident also saw Idafar's car damaged, running into the rear of Gabriel Dias, after pole sitter Oli Webb was spun at Deene. The contact, which led to Dias' retirement, also cleaved, can-opener like, a hole in the nose of Idafar's no.43 car, the damage limiting the cars speed on the straights and though Rockingham's collection of fast corners.

The disadvantage was just enough (Idafar's fastest lap was only five-hundreths slower than Cole's) to mean that, while able to remain close to the rear wing of Cole's car was never able to make a challenge, he forced to follow his title rival home – the gap on 0.656 second at the end of the 40-minute race as the National Class pair finished seventh and eighth overall, ahead of several International Class runners.

The six points Cole gained over Idafar in the final race was enough to lift him back into a slender lead in the class standings – 208 points ahead of Idafar's 203 – at the season's half way point.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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