DURING OFFICIAL BRANDS HATCH TESTLeading single-seater specialist Hillspeed concluded this week’s official Formula Renault UK test at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit very happy indeed with the progress made by championship rookie Menasheh Idafar and the team’s Formula Renault BARC title contender Ahmad Al Harthy.
For British-born Bahraini Idafar, the first day’s running at the 1.2-mile Kent venue on Tuesday, 3rd March, proved to be a great step forward, particularly in terms of his wet weather performance during the final hour of the morning session.
Lapping inside the top four for much of the rain-affected running, the 17-year-old was comfortably in the top six in full wet conditions having earlier posted a best time of 44.689 seconds (96.55mph) to go 10th fastest overall and fourth quickest of the drivers eligible for the Graduate Cup this year.
In the afternoon he marginally improved his dry time from session one to a lap of 44.677 seconds (96.58mph), placing him an impressive 12th overall for the session and a highly creditable 13th on the combined times for the day – out of a total of 30 competitors.
On Wednesday, 4th March, Idafar just shaded his opening day best with a lap of 44.659 seconds (96.62mph) but the time was more impressive than it first appeared when the team discovered his day had actually been compromised by a broken front suspension pick-up point.
Team principal Richard Ollerenshaw commented: “Menasheh performed very well indeed at Brands, particularly on the first day. He worked incredibly hard to be 10th fastest overall on the first morning but the highlight was undoubtedly his wet weather performance – to be so comfortably inside the top 10 in the wet was outstanding and a big confidence build for him.
“On day two we made some small changes to the car and expected to find a good improvement but, unfortunately, Menasheh was compromised on his new tyre run by a suspension pick-up breaking just as his tyres reached their best. To lap in 44.659 seconds with that problem was exceptional. The work we completed at Rockingham last week certainly paid off for us and we’re confident the testing we’ve done at Brands over the last couple of days will also prove beneficial.”
BARC title contender Al Harthy on top form at BrandsOmani star Ahmad Al Harthy, who heads into this year’s Formula Renault BARC Championship as one of the undoubted pre-season favourites, was in stunning form at the wheel of his BARC-specification car during a run-out with Hillspeed at Brands Hatch on Tuesday.
Lapping in 46.263 seconds (93.27mph) during the morning, the 27-year-old matched the Formula Renault BARC pole position time posted by team-mate Idafar at the Indy Circuit last year. Even better was to follow though when Al Harthy sliced a further two 10ths of a second off his best to get his quickest time down to an outstanding 46.011 seconds (93.78mph).
“Ahmad was exceptional on Tuesday”, said Ollerenshaw, “ He matched Menasheh’s pole time from the BARC meeting at Brands last year and then went faster still in the afternoon session. He’s looking incredibly strong and stands a superb chance of challenging for the BARC title this year. This was his last run for a few weeks as he’s back home in Oman now. He’ll be back on track in April though.”
In further news, Hillspeed’s James Theodore – who didn’t test this week – enjoyed a run out at Silverstone in Northamptonshire last Friday where he continued his tremendous progress at the wheel of his Formula Renault BARC car. The Telford newcomer, who won the BARC Winter Series crown on his 17th birthday last November, embarks on his first full season of car racing this year.
Official Formula Renault UK Championship testing continues next week, 11th/12th March, at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk while Theodore will join his Hillspeed team at the East Anglia venue on Friday, 13th March.