MANOR COMPETITION -- FRUK BRANDS HATCH PREVIEW Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent hosts the first two rounds of the 2007 Formula Renault UK Championship just a week from now, 31st March/1st April; the event marking the official full-season ...
MANOR COMPETITION -- FRUK BRANDS HATCH PREVIEW
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent hosts the first two rounds of the 2007 Formula Renault UK Championship just a week from now, 31st March/1st April; the event marking the official full-season competitive debut of the re-branded Manor Competition team.
As the most successful squad in the history of the Formula Renault UK series under the Manor Motorsport banner, the opening races of the 2007 season usher in a new era for the team which is now owned and run from Nottinghamshire premises by Manor stalwart Tony Shaw and his wife Sarah, both highly respected single-seater race engineers.
Fielding a relatively inexperienced four-car line-up for the coming season, the team is nonetheless highly confident as it looks ahead to the first event of the year, especially as Manor begins the championship undefeated in its current guise having won all four rounds of last November's winter series with Frenchman Franck Mailleux.
The revelation of last year's Winter Championship was undoubtedly Alexander Sims, the Peterborough sensation having made his debut with Manor for the four-round series. He realistically starts his first full season of car racing as a truly genuine challenger for podiums and race wins and both team and driver have high hopes for a strong title bid.
Sims has been impressive during the official pre-season which bodes well for a stellar Formula Renault UK Championship run and, importantly, he does have race experience at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit from the 2006 winter series. Furthermore, the recent official test at the 1.2-mile venue saw the 19-year-old end the session an excellent third overall.
"We're very confident of being on the podium at Brands Hatch", said team boss Tony Shaw, "But we're not being over-confident. We know this is going to be a tough season, but I do think we have a strong enough set-up with which Alexander could challenge for a couple of wins next weekend.
"All in all I'm happy with what we've achieved during the pre-season and the team has done me proud. Everyone has worked extremely hard and I can't speak highly enough regarding their efforts. Our pace during the recent Brands Hatch test was quick so I think we stand a very good chance of starting the season well."
Reigning Formula Renault BARC Champion Richard Singleton, who was engineered to his title by Sarah Shaw, makes his full Formula Renault UK debut with Manor this year and, like Sims, hopes are high of a very strong campaign.
Although continuing to adapt to the increased competitiveness of Formula Renault UK in comparison to the club-level BARC series, the Conwy sensation has shown promising pace during the pre-season and obviously has the necessary race-craft to be a threat throughout 2007.
Fellow Welshman Alex Morgan, who currently lives and studies in Birmingham, did contest the full 2006 Formula Renault UK season with a best result of 13th position but since his switch to the Manor Competition ranks the 19-year-old has improved markedly and is now gunning to be a regular top 10 finisher.
Northern Ireland's Kris Loane completes Manor's line-up for the new Formula Renault UK season and although his pre-season preparations haven't been trouble-free, particularly at Brands Hatch last week where he suffered from a rare engine problem, the 18-year-old has shown great promise.
"Alex, Kris and Richard have been improving all the time throughout testing and as the year moves on they'll definitely be strong", commented Shaw, "It was a shame Kris had to miss out on so much mileage after the engine problem during the Brands test but at Snetterton he was very fast so we have high hopes for him as he gains experience.
"Alex has been showing very good pace on old tyres, he just needs to learn how to extract the full benefit from new rubber and he'll be quick. During testing he has been consistent and I think he has a great chance to do well at Brands."
Shaw added: "Being the BARC Champion a lot will be expected of Richard but he just needs to concentrate on improving each time he goes out in the car and he'll soon be challenging for good results. He's a talented driver and obviously knows the circuit so we have high hopes for him."
Manor's drivers will next appear on track for pre-event testing at Brands Hatch a week today, Friday, 30th March, with qualifying for the first two races of the season taking place on Saturday, 31st March.