Hillspeed 2008 Season Review

Successful motor racing team Hillspeed enjoyed a very packed year in 2008, combining championship winning action in Formula Renault with participation in historic Formula One and central involvement with the development of a brand new Formula Ford chassis.Priding itself on the highest standards of preparation and fielding cars with race winning competitiveness, Hathersage based Hillspeed’s main aim at the start of this year was to challenge strongly for title honours in the Formula Renault BARC Championship.Running a three-car entry for Menasheh Idafar, Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Lyons, the squad started the season very well indeed with all three drivers finishing inside the top 10 during the opening race of the year.Idafar, embarking on his first full season with Hillspeed having joined the team last winter, quickly stunned the category front-runners with his pace after taking a maiden pole position for round two at Brands Hatch. Over the course of the first four races, he secured a 100 per cent podium finishing record and put his name forward as a genuine title challenger. Some bad luck mid-season, especially during the double-header event at Croft Circuit, irreparably damaged Idafar’s championship hopes but he returned to the podium at Silverstone during the final race and managed to conclude the year a highly creditable fourth overall in the driver standings.Al Harthy remained with Hillspeed after a solid 2007 with the team and he, like Idafar, underlined his front-running credentials. Ending the Formula Renault BARC season in fifth position,  just nine points behind his team-mate, the Omani racer enjoyed a very strong year and especially during the latter part of the campaign where he took three rostrums.Taking his first podium of 2008 at Croft, he then achieved his maiden pole position start in Formula Renault BARC at Thruxton for round 10 where he was also on the rostrum. He then concluded the year with a further podium finish at Silverstone, coupled with the round 11 fastest lap.“Menasheh and Ahmad were very strong and fast this year and, with the exception of some bad luck mid-season, they could both have ended the season inside the top three in the championship”, commented team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “We were regularly one of the quickest teams out there, between them Menasheh and Ahmad took eight podiums.”Teenager Lyons leads Hillspeed into Historic F1Youngster Michael Lyons made his full-season debut in contemporary machinery with Hillspeed this year while also competing in a variety of historic classes, including the Historic Formula Ford Championship which he won. Dovetailing a number of campaigns in 2008, the Essex driver made good progress in Formula Renault BARC and secured three top 10 finishes during the season. Graduating to Formula Renault UK for the four-round Winter Championship, the 17-year-old impressed with a fighting top 10 finish during the final race at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.Through the team’s involvement with Lyons, Hillspeed became associated with the world of historic Formula One racing this year – the highlight being a visit to Monte Carlo where young Lyons, and his parents Frank and Judy, competed with assistance from Hillspeed.“Taking our first steps into historic Formula One with Frank, Judy and Mick was something the whole team thoroughly enjoyed and we definitely feel this is an area of Hillspeed’s work which we’d very much like to expand”, said Ollerenshaw.Joining Lyons for the UK Winter Championship was Idafar and he went on to end the series 12th overall with a best result of fifth place at Rockingham – the highest finish of any of the Formula Renault BARC graduates. Hillspeed’s greatest success in the Winter Championship though came with car racing rookie James Theodore who scooped his first ever title in single-seaters after just six races! Making his competitive debut at Silverstone during the final rounds of the main BARC season, he went on to become Formula Renault BARC Winter Champion on his 17th birthday!Theodore, who took three class victories in the winter from four races, was set to be joined in the BARC division by Anglo-Australian racer Immanuel Bryson-Haynes but the latter was unable to compete after a heavy accident during a test outing at Snetterton in Norfolk.Exciting Formula Ford partnership unveiledBack at the beginning of the year, Hillspeed and Juno Racing announced a tie-up centering on the latter’s creation of a brand new chassis for use in the 2009 UK Formula Ford Championship. Marking the start of an exciting new chapter in Hillspeed’s history, testing of the new Juno chassis has already started and the car is expected to race full time next year.Lancashire based Juno, which is led by Ewan Baldry, enlisted the experience and first-class work ethic of Hillspeed to assist with the testing programme of the Formula Ford and the team is all set to run and prepare the car when it makes its competitive debut next year.Commenting, Richard Ollerenshaw said: “To be involved with the development of a brand new racing car is something very special, we’re delighted to be working with Juno on its Formula Ford project. We’ve had a good 2008 which we’ve all thoroughly enjoyed and we’re looking forward to an even better 2009.”

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