Hillspeed Very Happy With Pace


Derbyshire-based single-seater specialist Hillspeed fielded both its Michelin Formula Renault UK and Protyre Formula Renault BARC squads this past week during separate test outings with highly promising showings from all five of the team’s drivers.

At Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Wednesday, 6th May, and Thursday, 7th May, the squad’s Formula Renault UK pairing, Menasheh Idafar and Lee Dwyer, were in officially timed action along with the remainder of the championship competitors and both drivers performed very well indeed.

Focusing completely on car set-up work throughout the opening day of the test, the team enjoyed a very important day’s running and continued with its programme into day two.

During the final session of Thursday’s test, 18-year-old Idafar took just seven laps to produce an excellent time of 1m 17.871 seconds (98.24mph) to go ninth quickest in the session, 11th fastest on combined times. Importantly, the British-born Bahraini was the second fastest of the Graduate Cup runners over the course of the two days to underline his competitiveness and potential.

Team-mate Dwyer ended the Croft test with a best lap of 1m 18.618 seconds (97.30mph) which he set during the final session on Thursday. The Huddersfield-based 18-year-old didn’t have the luxury of having a run on new tyres due to a seriously limited testing budget so rather than challenge for out and out quick times, he instead concentrated on continued set-up work.

“Menasheh and Lee both worked very hard over the two days”, commented team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “The team strategy was to try some different things with the set-up on Wednesday and to learn as much as possible ahead of the Croft race meeting in June. We had no intention of going out to set quick lap times on the first day.

“Menasheh was exceptionally quick on Thursday, to end up just outside the top 10 overall and as the second fastest Graduate Cup runner was a display of his true potential. He only needed seven laps in the last session to do his quick time which was impressive.”

He added: “Lee didn’t run on new tyres and that’s the sole reason he was further down the timesheets than you would expect. He did a very good job over the course of the test, working hard on race set-up, but his testing budget is very tight which restricts the number of tyres he’s able to use. He’s working incredibly hard to find some sponsorship which he certainly deserves.”

Al Harthy and Theodore evenly matched during Oulton BARC testOn Friday, 8th May, Ahmad Al Harthy, James Theodore and Ellis Harkins all took to the track at Oulton Park in Cheshire to gain important mileage at the picturesque parkland track which will host round one of the 2009 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship on its Island Circuit layout.

Although an unofficially timed general test day on the full International configuration, a large number of the 2009 Formula Renault BARC drivers were in attendance with Omani racer Al Harthy and Telford based Theodore easily the quickest of the competitors. Harkins, meanwhile, had only his second test outing since the end of the 2008 season and acquitted himself well.

While reigning BARC Winter Champion Theodore did run on new tyres to post the fastest time of the day, team-mate Al Harthy was only around four 10ths of a second shy on his older rubber. Very evenly matched during the course of the day, both drivers are well on course to be podium contenders at the first race of the year a fortnight from now.

Ollerenshaw commented: “James and Ahmad were without doubt the quickest drivers on track on Friday, they’re both closely matched and will push each other on throughout the season which is a great prospect for Hillspeed. Ellis had a good day and he’s gaining confidence and pace every time he gets in the car. We’re pleased with his progress.”

Hillspeed’s Formula Renault BARC trio will be back in action on Wednesday, 13th May, at Oulton Park once again and there is the possibility they may be joined by a fourth driver.

The Formula Renault UK operation, meanwhile, will return to the track on Thursday, 14th May, at Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire for the pre-event practice ahead of the third race meeting of the season on Saturday, 16th May, and Sunday, 17th May.

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