UK: Manor Competition Croft preview

MANOR SET TO CONTINUE TITLE PUSH AT CROFT NEXT WEEKEND Croft circuit in North Yorkshire marks the mid-point of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship next weekend, 13th/14th June, where Manor Competition will be aiming to continue the...

MANOR SET TO CONTINUE TITLE PUSH AT CROFT NEXT WEEKEND

Croft circuit in North Yorkshire marks the mid-point of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship next weekend, 13th/14th June, where Manor Competition will be aiming to continue the fantastic recent form which has brought the team three wins from the last four races.

Last year's corresponding fixture at the 2.12-mile tack was affected by torrential rain which resulted in just one of the scheduled Formula Renault UK races being staged, an outing in which Manor finished on the podium with eventual category Vice-Champion and McLaren Autosport BRDC Award Winner Alexander Sims.

This year, especially in view of the squad's hugely successful outings at Donington Park and Oulton Park in the last few weeks, the Nottinghamshire team is once again bidding for race victory and has high hopes of seeing one of its drivers atop the Croft podium.

Since his return to Formula Renault UK ahead of the third round of the season, Dean Smith has become a genuine title challenger and in just six races he has surged up the driver standings with remarkable speed and is currently a fine third overall.

Securing a double pole position start at Donington Park in May and going on to claim a victory and second place, the 21-year-old Wolverhampton star produced a near faultless performance at Oulton Park last weekend where he claimed another pole position, won both races, posted a brand new circuit lap record and was also named ELF/Atol Driver of the Day for round seven.

Team-mate Alice Powell also achieved a Driver of the Day accolade for her excellent drive in round eight at Oulton Park, the 16-year-old rookie taking a fantastic 10th place on her first ever competitive run at what is widely regarded as the most challenging, true driver's circuit in the UK. The Chipping Norton racer has been nothing short of exceptional so far this year and aims for even more at Croft.

Surrey 19-year-old David McDonald equalled his career best Formula Renault UK finish of fourth place last weekend in round seven with a very impressive performance -- it's only a matter of time before the teenager secures his maiden podium and Croft could well be the venue. Just a single point outside the coveted championship top 10, McDonald's pace has certainly been impressive.

All four of Manor's drivers head into next weekend's ninth and 10th rounds of the season off the back of excellent results at Oulton Park, 20-year-old Thomas Hylkema certainly no exception with seventh and 11th place finishes boosting his championship position last time out. Much like McDonald, the Dutch racer has shown he has the pace and just needs a little more consistency.

Looking ahead to the annual visit to Croft, team co-owner Sarah Shaw said: "We're all really looking forward to Croft. It's been a fantastic few weeks for Manor and if we can produce the same level of performance next weekend as we did at Oulton Park, we'll all be very happy indeed. We had the pace last year and see no reason why we shouldn't be right at the sharp end again this time.

"Dean has been in outstanding form since Donington and he'll definitely be aiming for more wins while David's top four at Oulton was very impressive, he's edging ever closer to the podium. Alice just continues to surprise with her performances, she's been incredible so far, and if Thomas can get his qualifying sorted he definitely has the pace and racecraft to be right up there."

Following pre-event practice on Friday, 12th June, qualifying for rounds nine and 10 of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship will take place at 10.20 and 14.05 respectively on Saturday, 13th June, ahead of the first of the weekend's races at 17.30. Round 10, which will be screened live on ITV4 across the UK, will be held on Sunday, 14th June at 13.50.

2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings (after Rd8): 3rd Dean Smith, 146pts; =11th David McDonald, 85pts; 14th Thomas Hylkema, 55pts; 19th Alice Powell, 42pts

2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK 'Graduate Cup' Standings (after Rd8): 7th Alice Powell, 42pts

2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Team Standings (after Rd8): 3rd Manor Competition, 265pts

-credit: manorcompetition.com

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Dean Smith , Thomas Hylkema , Alexander Sims , Alice Powell , David McDonald