4 Podiums From 4 Races ...

For Hillspeed

Front-running Formula Renault BARC Championship entrant Hillspeed emerged from a wet Rockingham on  Sunday, 20th April, with its run of podium results firmly intact; the Derbyshire team seeing 17-year-old Menasheh Idafar climb onto the rostrum for both of the weekend’s races.Having achieved a brace of podium finishes during the season opener at Brands Hatch in Kent on Easter Weekend, Richard Ollerenshaw’s Hathersage-based squad continued its superb start to the 2008 season at Rockingham’s International Super Sports Car Circuit on Sunday with another strong haul of championship points.Backing up Idafar’s brace of third place finishes, and also his second career pole position during Saturday’s round three qualifying session, team-mates Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Lyons both produced great performances. Round four proved to be the particular highlight with all three Hillspeed drivers finishing in the top seven.While the wet conditions put British-born Bahraini Idafar and Omani racer Al Harthy at a disadvantage compared to the majority of other category front-runners, the pair coped admirably. Lyons, meanwhile, continued to show excellent progress, racing hard for a career best finish in round four and incredibly unlucky not to score in the first race.Speaking on the weekend, team principal Ollerenshaw said: “We’re very happy indeed with our results. Including last November’s winter series, of the eight races Menasheh has contested with us he’s been on the podium six times and this year he’s taken four podiums from four starts. He’s showing incredible consistency and very good speed.“We knew the wet races wouldn’t play into the hands of Menasheh and Ahmad today, they were always going to be on the back-foot compared to the European drivers purely because of the lack of running they’ve had in the wet.“Had it been dry we’d have been in very good shape, I don’t doubt we could have been celebrating two drivers on each podium and maybe all three cars in the top five. Mick did a great job in the second race, we were delighted with the way he performed and he’s showing a lot of promise. With another few races under his belt, he’ll be very strong. He has a bright future”He added: “Again, Ahmad racked up some decent points and although he was disappointed not to capitalise on his second row grid starts it was only down to the lack of experience he has in wet conditions. With more time in the car on a wet track, he’ll be fine. There’s no question he has the pace in the dry, as he proved in qualifying.”Lining up on pole position for Sunday morning’s third round, Idafar suffered from a lot of wheel-spin as he attempted to lead from the front but did very well indeed to hold the top spot into Deene Hairpin as the cars threaded their way off the Rockingham Oval banking and into the infield section for the first time.Al Harthy, who started fourth, made a brilliant getaway and leapt into second place at Deene but a fast-starting Ollie Hancock soon made his way past the 26-year-old.  Before long, Hancock was on terms with Idafar and as they headed side-by-side over the start/finish line into lap two, it looked as though experienced racer Hancock would take the lead. However, Idafar fought back, defending well on the inside at Deene.The Hillspeed star lost the lead a couple of corners further into the lap though and later in the race on lap 11, he had to concede another place to the charging Johannes Seidlitz as the two drivers made their way past a backmarker at Tarzan Hairpin.Al Harthy, meanwhile, was forced to mount a fightback following a spin on lap five. After rejoining in 11th place, he climbed back into the top eight before the finish to salvage three important championship points.Essex-based Lyons ran solidly early on in round three and by lap five he had made his way into the points in 10th position. Due to team-mate Al Harthy’s troubles he then climbed into ninth, but a problem of his own at mid-distance saw him drop down the order to 16th. He fought back well though into the top 12 before the finish.Season’s best for Lyons in round fourThe day’s second encounter was red flagged on the second tour after a car ended up stranded at Turn One following contact with the retaining wall. At the re-start, Idafar didn’t make the best of getaways and as he staggered away from second position on the grid he was passed by several drivers, including Al Harthy from fourth place.On the run to Deene though, Idafar sliced up the inside to retake second position with a great piece of driving. Al Harthy too raced well on the opening lap, defending fourth place hard to keep Hancock at bay.As the race progressed, it was a similar story to round three for Idafar as he succumbed to the greater wet weather experience of Hancock who slipped through into second under braking for Tarzan Hairpin on lap five. Nonetheless, his second third place of the day was a great result and keeps him firmly in the title battle.Al Harthy produced a good points finish in fifth place to underline his consistency and pace, the Omani star concluding the weekend joint fourth in the championship.Lyons produced the star performance of round four for Hillspeed with a great drive from 11th on the grid into seventh at the finish – his best result of the season. He ran as high as sixth for a large portion of the race and although losing out to Seidlitz and James Dixon during the closing stages, Lyons passed Dixon on the final lap to grab four well deserved points.Although entrants in Formula Renault BARC don’t attain points, looking at a theoretical ‘teams’ championship based on the scoring system implemented in the sister Formula Renault UK series, Hillspeed would currently be leading by 17 points.Hillspeed quickly returns to the track tomorrow, Tuesday, 22nd April, for officially timed testing at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire. The team’s next race action will come five weeks from now on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, 26th May, at Oulton Park in Cheshire.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (after Rd4)2nd Menasheh Idafar, 42pts; =4th Ash Davies, Isa Yusuf Mohammed & Ahmad Al Harthy, 22pts; =12th Nathan Coulter & Michael Lyons, 5pts


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