General Formula 3Open Wheel

Menasheh Idafar Clinches National Class With Magic Podium

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Menasheh Idafar probably would have fantasised about worse ways to clinch the National Class title in the British Formula Three Championship than the finale weekend the T-Sport driver enjoyed at Brands Hatch.

The 19-year-old entered the final weekend's three races with a slim lead over title rival James Cole at the end of a season where the two – who are also teammates – had swapped the points lead back and fourth.

Through the weekend the title only looked to be going to Idafar. He took pole position – seven tenths over Cole – before spending much of the first race battling with the International Class runners – notably Jazeman Jaafar and Jay Bridger as he finished 11th overall, outclassing Cole, six places behind.

That first win, and a bonus point for fastest lap in class extended Idafar's lead to ten points and a second win of the weekend in the first of Sunday's races meant that he only had to finish the weekend's final race to secure the championship.

Then the weather intervened.

As rain began to dampen the track, unwilling to take the sort of risks that cost silverware, Idafar pitted at the end of the formation lap, together with several other drivers, to take wet tyres.

The stop dropped Idafar from the class pole and allowed Cole to take the initial lead, though a mistake on lap two dropped him down the order and Idafar assumed the class lead, never to relinquish it.

While he was able to keep Cole at bay the International Class runners on slicks began to pull away, but as conditions worsened the cautious stop began look inspired. The slick-attired drivers now struggling Idafar made his way into the overall top ten on lap sixteen, then the top six, then into fourth, Daisuke Nakajima, Carlos Huertas and Adriano Buzaid.

Daniel McKenzie – the reigning National Class champion now running in the International Class for Fortec Motorsport – stood between Idafar and a startling overall podium. McKenzie – twice a winner this year – defended hard, but Idafar was past with a move on the exit of Graham Hill Bend. It was a fitting changing of the guard as the British-Bahraini swept to National Class victory.

“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,” said Menasheh. “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.”

The hat-trick of wins repeated the feat he completed at Snetterton in the previous round, but his fantastic race three results also gained him the Driver of the Weekend award from series sponsor Sunoco.

“It's amazing, I don't know what to say!”, enthused Idafar at the successful conclusion of a year's work. “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.”

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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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