Manor Competition 2010 season review

Success and title glory are synonymous with Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition and the 2010 season was no exception as the revered squad reclaimed the entrant's championship and also produced its third McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner in as many years.

Mounting a sustained bid for honours throughout the main campaign, the New Ollerton squad took eight race victories throughout the season -- five for Lewis Williamson, two for Will Stevens and one for Ollie Millroy -- during a year in which 10 different drivers visited the top step of the podium.

In the end the team finished almost 100 points clear of its closest rival to underline the sheer dominance of the Manor Competition attack. Unfortunately a championship double slipped away when Scotsman Williamson was pipped to the driver's crown at the final event by a mere six points.

Nonetheless, the 21-year-old shone during the year and matured greatly under the tutelage of team owners Tony and Sarah Shaw. He then put everything he learned into practice perfectly as a finalist for the 22nd McLaren Autosport BRDC Award which he won in true style to follow hot on the heels of 2008 victor Alexander Sims and 2009 winner Dean Smith -- both Manor drivers.

Thomas Hylkema remained with the Nottinghamshire outfit for a second season in 2010 and, like his team-mates, improved markedly in terms of his pace and racecraft. Although unable to add to the podium he achieved with Manor in the 2009 Winter Championship, the Dutchman did achieve his first pole position with a stunning effort at Croft in North Yorkshire.

Reflecting on the main 2010 season, Tony Shaw said: "All in all we had a fantastic year and it was great to take back the team's title. We were obviously very disappointed to miss out on the driver's championship but Lewis winning the McLaren Award -- our third on the trot -- more than made up for that. It speaks volumes for how we provide the best possible development for our drivers."

Double title win tantalisingly close for Manor Will Stevens started the year as the team's strongest driver and after kicking off his campaign with a second place and superb victory at Thruxton, he finished fifth and third at Rockingham before taking his second win from the first six races at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.

Just under a third of the way through the season, the Oxshott teenager looked a cert to be in the title mix at the end of the 20-round championship but although he did return to the podium and delivered some consistent front-running drives his campaign did tail off. Fourth position in the championship wasn't what Stevens wanted but he most certainly proved his terrific ability.

Lewis Williamson took over Stevens' mantle as Manor's most likely title threat at the mid-point of the year. By that stage of proceedings the Golspie racer had achieved two victories, one at Oulton Park and the other at Croft, along with a series of other top results.

Two more podiums at Snetterton and Silverstone National Circuit, along with a win during the rescheduled round five, kept Williamson right in the thick of the action and although his Knockhill homecoming wasn't as he had hoped, he bounced back with a sensational double win at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. At the Brands Hatch finale he did all he could but missed the title by a whisker.

Ollie Millroy joined the Manor Competition ranks ahead of rounds seven and eight at Oulton Park, after switching from a rival team to replace the departing Josh Mulholland, and he immediately showed his true promise with a fine top five finish during the opening race.

His first podium came at Croft with a terrific run to second place but the Snetterton weekend proved to be the highlight of the season -- Millroy earning his first victory in Formula Renault UK and also taking a top five finish in race two. Further podiums followed at Silverstone and Knockhill and the Claygate driver rounded out his rookie campaign an impressive sixth overall in the standings.

For Thomas Hylkema, 2010 was all about striving for podium success and building on the great progress he made during the preceding Winter Championship. Getting his season off to a consistent start with a string of results in and around the top 10, everything came together for the Dutch racer at Croft where he achieved his maiden pole position.

Finishing sixth in the first of the Croft races, Hylkema looked set to secure a career-best result in the second encounter. After overheating the clutch on the grid though, a resulting sensor failure meant his car ground to a halt. Devastated, he nonetheless bounced back with a run of two top eights and a sixth place over the Snetterton and Silverstone National weekends. He ended the year 14th overall.

Winter Series misfortune for Millroy but Hill earns debut podium Fielding a strong mix of experience and fresh Formula Renault talent for the six-round winter series, the team headed into the annual mini-championship with a strong chance of title success having retained proven race winner Millroy.

Joining him were 2010 Formula Renault BARC Champion Alice Powell -- who raced with Manor in 2009 in Formula Renault UK and who enlisted the services of Sarah Shaw to engineer her car for the BARC title campaign -- exciting karting graduate Jordan King and Formula Ford race winner Josh Hill, son of 1996 FIA Formula One World Champion Damon.

The championship was something of a mixed bag for Manor with all four of its drivers often finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time -- in particular at Snetterton in qualifying where traffic issues and changing track conditions worked against the team.

Even so, Millroy went well at Snetterton with a second place finish in round one but a harsh judicial decision in round two dropped him from second place to fourth. Pembrey was a nightmare though and after being caught-up in several incidents he was only able to secure a best of fifth place to end the championship sixth overall.

Much like Millroy, Chipping Norton-based Powell had more than her share of bad luck and ended the series in 12th place -- her best result of seventh place coming during round two at Snetterton. With searing pace in testing, everything looked well set but the results unfortunately didn't reflect that.

King improved markedly over the six rounds and achieved a best of sixth place in the first of the Pembrey races, round three, but his hopes of more were dashed due to a couple of on-track issues during the second event. The Warwickshire driver's impressive rookie pace though was undeniable.

For Hill, the Welsh track delivered a deserved maiden Formula Renault podium and added to sixth, seventh and 11th place results there he moved up the standings into ninth place. The Farnham racer should have taken his first rostrum at Snetterton but an electrical problem forced retirement.

Tony Shaw commented: "Ollie was as quick as ever in the winter and Josh did a great job to take his first podium while Jordan came on very strongly, showing a lot of promise, and Alice adapted back to the UK car without any trouble at all. It wasn't how we wanted to end the racing year but it really was a case of all four drivers being in the wrong place at the wrong time mostly!"

-source: manorcompetition.com

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