Double points finish for Hillspeed

Front-running Formula Renault BARC entrant Hillspeed enjoyed a double-points finish for both Menasheh Idafar and Ahmad Al Harthy at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk on Saturday, 9th August, during the eighth and ninth rounds of the championship.Hitting back strongly in the points battle after a luckless previous round of the season, the Derbyshire squad also looked set to see Britain’s Michael Lyons equal a season’s best effort in the second of Saturday’s races but the 17-year-old was forced out of the encounter after contact from Kourash Khani at Sear Corner.Although ending in disappointment for Lyons, Idafar and Al Harthy each enjoyed successful points scores to ensure they head into the final three rounds of the 2008 season fourth and fifth respectively in the headline FR2000 Class driver standings.During the 20-minute qualifying session, British-born Bahraini Idafar was the best placed Hillspeed racer with fourth on the grid for both rounds eight and nine. Al Harthy would line-up eighth and ninth for the two encounters while Lyons posted the 13th fastest time for the race one grid and an improved 12th quickest for race two.At the beginning of round eight, Idafar didn’t make the best getaway but still managed to hold onto fourth place where he would remain to the finish on lap 12. The race was scheduled for 14 laps duration but an incident involving Nathan Coulter and Brett Parris resulted in red flags being shown.Al Harthy enjoyed a great start to the race to move up to sixth place by the time he exited the Esses and, again, that’s where he would remain to the finish in a race which saw little in the way of overtaking. Lyons, meanwhile, had a race-long battle with Lee Dwyer and eventually came home in 12th place – the results declared after 10 laps. Round nine took place on a rain-lashed track with conditions incredibly tricky for the competitors but Hillspeed’s trio all ran strongly. Re-started after being red flagged on lap three, the second of the day’s races saw Al Harthy produce the stand-out performance having climbed from 11th on the re-start grid to sixth place at the chequered flag.Idafar fought back well from a cautious opening few laps to finish just behind his 26-year-old Omani team-mate in seventh position, however, both drivers received a boost following post-race scrutineering when original third placed finisher Ross Curnow was excluded, promoting Al Harthy into fifth and Idafar into sixth.Felsted-based Lyons showed great promise during the first five laps of the second encounter, but the opportunity of equalling his season’s best finish of seventh place at his home track ended with an enforced retirement on the sixth tour at Sear Corner when Kourash Khani made contact.Looking back on the action, Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw said: “Menasheh scored some good points which was a must really, particularly after such a difficult time at Croft during the last event. Ahmad was very good, he looked strong in the wet and the dry and he’s now up to fifth in the championship, just behind Menasheh, which is great.“We’re very disappointed for Mick, he really did look on course to score a strong top 10 in race two until he was punted off – I actually think he had the pace to equal his season’s best of seventh place too but it wasn’t to be unfortunately which is a great shame considering Snetterton is his home circuit.”Ollerenshaw added: “From a full team perspective, I’m very pleased to have hit back strongly from the disappointment of Croft. I did have concerns about the second race being started in such bad conditions but thankfully all three of our drivers raced with their heads and drove very sensibly.”Hillspeed’s next competitive Formula Renault BARC action will come a month from now on Sunday, 7th September, at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire for round 10 of the season.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (after Rd9):4th Menasheh Idafar, 61pts; 5th Ahmad Al Harthy, 45pts; 14th Michael Lyons, 8pts