Several race wins, multiple podium finishes and one of the most famous surnames in motor racing history in its ranks -- the 2008 Formula Renault UK season saw legendary team Manor Competition come tantalisingly close to securing two driver ...
Several race wins, multiple podium finishes and one of the most famous surnames in motor racing history in its ranks -- the 2008 Formula Renault UK season saw legendary team Manor Competition come tantalisingly close to securing two driver championships.
Running Alexander Sims to the Vice-Champion's position in the main Formula Renault UK Championship, Manor went on to claim Vice-Champion glory in the four-round winter series with Henry Surtees, son of former World Motorcycling and Formula One Champion John Surtees OBE.
The New Ollerton based team also enjoyed podium success in the main summer series with Northern Ireland's Kris Loane who was desperately unlucky not to achieve a race victory and more rostrums on his way to sixth overall in the final standings.
Car racing rookie Tom Armour graduated from karting with Manor and while improving during his first full season in Formula Renault UK, he really started to come into his own during the winter series where -- much like Loane during the main championship -- he suffered some awful misfortune and didn't rack up the results he deserved. His pace though was excellent.
South Korean driver Sung Hak Mun joined the Manor ranks for the Winter Championship where he competed alongside Armour and Surtees. Improving strongly over the course of the series, Mun had his share of bad luck but impressed during the final round at Rockingham.
"It was a great season for us, we had some excellent results and to see Alexander and Henry finish as Vice-Champions of the main championship and winter championship respectively was fantastic", said Manor team boss Tony Shaw, "Obviously we're disappointed to have missed out on both titles having come so close but the team did a terrific job all year."
Sims actually scored the most points of any driver during the course of the Formula Renault UK Championship but with the series employing a drop score ruling -- drivers having to subtract their two lowest scores from the 20 rounds contested -- he just missed out on becoming Manor's first main series champion since 2005.
He also racked up a whole host of accolades during the year including acceptance onto the MSA British Race Elite programme, an invitation to become a British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star and, most impressively, the 2008 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. Over the course of the season he achieved two race victories, 10 other podiums and three fastest laps.
Loane, like team-mate Sims embarking on his second full year with Manor, showed superb pace and bar a run of incidents which compromised his competitiveness he would certainly have been a championship contender. Aside from his two podiums, he also secured half a dozen other top six finishes.
The team also ventured into Europe during 2008 with participation in the Spa-Francorchamps rounds of the Formula Renault West European Cup, fielding cars for Sims and Surtees. Instantly proving its pace against the best squads on the continent, Manor achieved best results of sixth place with Surtees and ninth place with Sims.
Maiden win for Surtees...and almost the winter title After achieving his first podium during the penultimate race meeting of the main championship, Surtees headed into the winter series and achieved his maiden category win during the opening race at Croft. At the start of the final round, the title did look out of reach but an excellent drive to second place saw him miss out on the crown by only the slimmest of margins.
Armour's best result of the main championship came with a pair of 11th place finishes but during the winter campaign he raced to an excellent fifth place during round two. His qualifying performance at Croft was certainly special, only bad luck prevented a maiden podium. For Mun, his development as a driver in a Manor car was very good and culminated in a top 12 result.
Shaw added: "Alexander had a stunning year, he came very close to winning the championship and we proved we had a very competitive and quick car. Had a couple of bits of misfortune fallen the other way for us, we'd have won the title for sure. Henry's year culminated very nicely with his first win during the winter series, he greatly improved as the season progressed.
"Kris had perhaps more bad luck than anyone during the main season. His pace was consistently good and he should have had several podiums but it just wasn't to be which was equally frustrating for Sarah (Shaw -- Loane's race engineer and co-owner of Manor Competition).
"Tom Armour, much like Henry, really started to come into his own during the latter stages of the year and in the winter he was one of the fastest drivers out there. It was good to work with Tom Mun in the winter too, he certainly improved during the few outings he had with us."
Under its former banner Manor Motorsport -- still the name of the squad's Formula 3 operation, led by John Booth -- the team famously won the 2000 Formula Renault UK title with Kimi Raikkonen (2007 Formula One World Champion) , the 2003 crown with Lewis Hamilton (2008 F1 World Champion) and the 2005 championship with Oliver Jarvis (Audi DTM driver).
Enjoying countless race wins over the course of the last decade, Manor has etched its name into the history books of UK motorsport and in 2008 came within the blink of an eyelid of adding yet more championship silverware to its trophy cabinet. The preparations for Manor Competition's 2009 title bid start now...