POLEMAN SIMS HIT BY BAD LUCK AT BRANDS HATCH Having made a perfect start to the opening race weekend of the 2008 Formula Renault UK season with his first category pole position, Alexander Sims was forced to adopt a damage limitation ...
POLEMAN SIMS HIT BY BAD LUCK AT BRANDS HATCH
Having made a perfect start to the opening race weekend of the 2008 Formula Renault UK season with his first category pole position, Alexander Sims was forced to adopt a damage limitation approach yesterday, Sunday, 30th March, when his neutral cable snapped during the green flag formation lap ahead of the first encounter.
Dominant throughout pre-season testing at the wheel of his Manor Competition run car, the 20-year-old from Wansford near Peterborough began his championship campaign exactly as planned on Saturday morning with a superb pole position lap of 44.666 seconds (96.60mph).
Although unable to repeat the performance in the round two qualifying session due to rainfall at the midway point which prevented him from venturing back out onto the circuit, Alexander wasn't too displeased with the sixth fastest time in the circumstances.
Overnight rain meant Sunday morning's first round would take place on a damp track. But before Alexander had a chance to reproduce the sort of wet weather skill he showed at Donington Park last July, en route to his first ever Formula Renault UK win, the neutral cable on his car snapped during the formation lap.
Resulting in the Cambridgeshire ace being unable to access neutral while waiting for the race start, he had to hold the brakes and the clutch to prevent a jump-start which compromised his getaway and saw him struggle away from pole position.
Slipping to 14th position, the Manor Competition star had a huge battle on his hands to make any kind of impression on the top 10 with overtaking almost impossible for Formula Renault UK cars on the short and twisty 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.
An incredible drive though saw Alexander move into the top 12 on lap three and on lap eight he managed to dispatch Jordan Oakes with a terrific move at Surtees, the latter having offered up stern defence during the interim laps.
Moving into the top 10 two laps later, Alexander set off in pursuit of Adriano Buzaid in ninth place and passed the Brazilian at Druids Hairpin on lap 13. Despite losing out to Buzaid on lap 22, Alexander's ninth place at the flag was an impressive result considering the start and he was by far the star performer
Round two saw Alexander make a strong getaway from the third row of the grid and he immediately moved into the top five after passing the poor-starting Oli Webb. Chasing second row starter Oakes for almost half the race, Alexander applied huge pressure and it eventually paid off with a great move at Clearways on lap 15.
Running in fourth position, a podium looked possible but with the lead quartet all lapping with a couple of 10ths of a second of each other, Alexander settled for his placing. He could be forgiven for being disappointed with a less than straightforward start to his title campaign, but the single-seater ace remains incredibly phlegmatic about the situation.
"That's motor racing", said the 20-year-old, "We've shown this weekend we have the pace to be on pole position and we'll be challenging for podiums and wins regularly, I'm sure of that. After the problem with the neutral cable it was all about damage limitation.
"We had some misfortune in second qualifying too with the rain preventing us from trying to secure another pole start but it's the way it goes sometimes. I'm pleased with my own performance in both races though and also that of the team. There was nothing anyone could do about the circumstances which affected our weekend but it's not a problem.
"We know we're fast and very consistent, at Rockingham we'll be strong. I've ironed out the mistakes from last season, that's what comes with being a second year driver, and I'm very comfortable in the car. Although this wasn't the start to the year we wanted, I'm confident at Rockingham we'll be back at the front and challenging for wins."
Rounds three and four of the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship take place two weeks from now, 12th/13th April, at Rockingham International Super Sports Car Circuit in Northamptonshire -- Alexander's 'home' event.
Before then, he will be back in action tomorrow, Tuesday, 1st April, at Cheshire's Oulton Park Island Circuit for official testing. Prior to the next race meeting there will also be a further championship test run, this time at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, on Monday, 7th April.