TERRIFIC FIGHT-BACK EARNS SIMS DESERVED SNETTERTON TOP 10 Alexander Sims was forced to mount a charging fight-back during the 14th round of the Formula Renault UK Championship at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk on Sunday, 29th July, due to an ...
TERRIFIC FIGHT-BACK EARNS SIMS DESERVED SNETTERTON TOP 10
Alexander Sims was forced to mount a charging fight-back during the 14th round of the Formula Renault UK Championship at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk on Sunday, 29th July, due to an unexpected clutch problem on the grid; the 19-year-old single-seater ace rescuing a deserved ninth place result to maintain eighth position in the driver standings.
Competing for the first time in his career at his 'home' circuit, the Peterborough driver qualified on the third row of the grid on Saturday afternoon for both of the weekend's races and hopes were high in the Manor Competition camp of more podium success for Alexander to back-up his maiden career win at Donington Park a fortnight ago.
From fifth on the grid in round 13, the Cambridgeshire ace made a decent getaway and following a three-lap Safety Car period the race resumed with Alexander enjoying a good battle with Will Bratt and Riki Christodoulou.
As Bratt passed Christodoulou for third place on lap 10 at the Bomb Hole, Alexander followed suit and produced a great move up the inside on the run to Coram Curve to demote Christodoulou to fifth place.
Christodoulou mounted a fresh challenge at Sear Corner on lap 17 and with Alexander fighting hard to re-take the position, an unfortunate spin at the Esses saw him fall down the order. He eventually crossed the line in 13th position, a great shame after such a competitive showing.
Supported by Spalding-based J.O Sims, Ocean Spray, Northern Fruit Company and Stemilt Growers -- the latter two sponsors based in Wenatchee, USA -- Alexander wanted to make amends in round 14 but his race was compromised from the start when a clutch problem saw the Manor ace forced to stall his car to avoid jumping the start.
In doing so, he fell to the tail of the field but a searing comeback drive saw the former Stamford School pupil end the race in a highly creditable ninth place, his best lap time of 1m 05.956 seconds less than half a second shy of the fastest lap of all.
Some terrific close and respectful duelling with Manor team-mates Alex Morgan and Kris Loane during the last half of the race proved to be a particular highlight, Alexander taking the chequered flag as the filling in the Manor sandwich with Morgan a mere half a second ahead and Loane seven 10ths of a second adrift.
"We had so much hope going into the weekend but a couple of unfortunate mistakes meant I lost the chance of challenging for podiums which we definitely had the pace to achieve this weekend", said Alexander looking back on the weekend's action.
"I made an error on Friday afternoon which lost us the entire second session of testing and so that put us on the back foot a little bit going into qualifying. Starting on the third row for both races wasn't bad all things considered and then the first race was good until I made a small mistake at the Esses. I was pleased with my pace though."
He added: "The start of the second race was a real shame, I'm not sure what the problem with the clutch was but I had to brake hard and make the car stall, basically, to ensure I didn't jump the start. The clutch wanted to bite even though it was flat to the floor but at least I had a decent fight-back to finish inside the top 10.
"Pace-wise the whole weekend was good and there are definitely some positives to take away to Brands Hatch where I'm hoping to be back in the hunt for podiums. Qualifying will be all important but we're confident we can be right there in the mix."
There is now a three week break in race action until the 15th and 16th rounds of the season which will take place on 18th/19th August at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent.
Before then though, Alexander will take part in an official Formula Renault UK test at Thruxton on Wednesday, 8th August. The session will act as the pre-event test for the final two rounds of the season which will be held at the Hampshire venue in October.