Menasheh Idafar picked the perfect time to achieve his first perfect weekend in the British Formula 3 International Series National Class, dominating the running at Snetterton to take a points lead to next month's final round.
The Norfolk weekend put the 19-year-old through the entire gamut of conditions, the three races going from wet to dry across the Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend.
The first of the weekend's races was as close to Idafar came to being beaten during the weekend as the race got underway in wet conditions, the field on wet Cooper tyres for the green flag on Sunday. However, it was Idafar's T-Sport teammate and National Class rival James Cole who got the best of start jumping from starting behind him to leading Menasheh into Riches – the opening corner.
The loss of position turned out to be only momentary, re-taking the lead at the next corner and spent the remainder of the race pulling away, coping better as the wet tyres became less and less effective on track as a dry line appeared around the 1.95 circuit. Such was the change in condictions during the race that Cole pitted to switch to dry tyres, and though he was able to take a class point for fastest lap the length of a Formula Three pitstop allowed Idafar to take and easy win.
“When the race started though the track dried really quickly,” stated Menasheh. “My start wasn't so good, I didn't get away well at all and lost a place to James but into Sear I re-passed him and then went from there.”
The second race too came down to tyre choice.
The track drying from showers on Monday morning teams were faced with a choice – slick or wet tyres. Idafar opted for slick tyres, despite driving the lap to the dummy grid on wets, and initially it looked as if he had made the wrong selection as he, like the other slick runners (including newly crowned International Class champion Jean-Eric Vergne) struggled on a still wet track.
Idafar slipped back towards Cole, it seeming only a matter of time before Cole past the British-born Bahraini for the class lead to negate all his Sunday work. But rather than continue to slip back Idafar was able to keep pace with the International Class runners he had previously lost ground to, the conditions suiting his choice of rubber more and more.
Idafar took his second win of the weekend by seven seconds his pace so good by the end of the race that he was confident enough to drop away from the runners ahead of him to allow him space to attempt to take fastest lap in the class – the result (1:04.40) was enough to claim the extra point from the race.
But unseen there had been an incident between the two rivals, Cole prostesting over an incident in the weekend's first race, Idafar, to the disbelief of his team, was handed a five-place penalty for the final race of the weekend, turning another class pole on speed into the final grid spot in the 21 car field.
The disadvantage to Cole – who started 18th having inherited the pole position – was short lived. Menasheh had caught Cole by the time they sped down the Revett Straight on the first lap and swept around his outside at the Esses to take the class lead despite some aggressive driving by Cole forcing Idafar wide on the exit of corner.
Out front yet again Idafar showed his potential in the F3 field again lapping at the same pace as the International Class cars ahead, while keeping others in the top class at bay to finish 14th overall – 20 seconds ahead of a fairly beaten Cole.
“It's fantastic to finally win all three races on a weekend, I've been wanting to do that all year so I'm really happy”, said Idafar, “This weekend was a really important one for the championship. I needed to make sure I finished all three races but to win each one is amazing.”
The three wins turned a nine point deficit at the start of the weekend into a four point advantage, the National Class Championship set for dramatic finale at Brand Hatch on September 25-26.