AT OULTON PARK OFFICIAL TEST Welshman Richard Singleton made a return to the Hillspeed ranks at Oulton Park Island Circuit yesterday, Wednesday, 18th March, during official Formula Renault UK Championship testing alongside the team’s confirmed 2009 racer, Menasheh Idafar.
As 18-year-old Idafar continued his impressive pre-season preparations by setting the 11th fastest time during the morning, Singleton – who won the 2007 Formula Renault UK Winter title when driving for Hillspeed – made his return to the Derbyshire squad in the second of the day’s sessions.
Idafar’s best lap of the day, 1m 19.412 seconds (100.91mph), placed him on the fringe of the top 10 and was just 1.2 seconds outside second placed Dean Stoneman. In the afternoon, however, hopes of an even better run for the British-born Bahraini were ended early when a puncture – the result of a failed bolt on his rear suspension upright – sent him into the gravel trap.
The team worked feverishly to get Idafar’s car repaired during the final hour of the day’s test but just ran out of time meaning he was unable to get a run on new tyres. This does mean though, Hillspeed now has an extra set of fresh tyres available for Idafar during next week’s outing at Silverstone.
Singleton, who last year competed in Eurocup Formula Renault after running to seventh position overall in the 2007 Formula Renault UK Championship, completed 35 laps in total during the afternoon with a best lap of 1m 19.858 seconds (100.34mph).
The 20-year-old, from Llanfairfechan near Conwy, is considering a return to Formula Renault UK and Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw would certainly relish the prospect of seeing the experienced campaigner team-up with category rookie Idafar for the coming season.
“It was good to see Richard back in a Hillspeed car and we’d certainly enjoy working with him again this year, if he decides to return to the championship of course”, said Ollerenshaw, “Menasheh lapped very strongly during the morning session, posting the 11th fastest time was very good indeed.
“The failure of the bolt on the suspension upright, which caused the puncture, was very unfortunate and meant he didn’t have the chance to run on new tyres. Having said that, it does mean we have an extra set of fresh tyres for Menasheh now for the two-day test at Silverstone next week.”
Official pre-season testing comes to a conclusion on 24th/25th March at Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire. On day one, the National Circuit layout will be in use while on the second day, the full Grand Prix track will be utilised.