Leading Formula Renault UK squad Manor Competition heads to Rockingham Motor Speedway next weekend, 21st/22nd April, for the third and fourth rounds of the season with high hopes of claiming the team's first podium finish of 2007. As perhaps the...
Leading Formula Renault UK squad Manor Competition heads to Rockingham Motor Speedway next weekend, 21st/22nd April, for the third and fourth rounds of the season with high hopes of claiming the team's first podium finish of 2007.
As perhaps the most impressive motor racing venue in the country, Rockingham will host Formula Renault UK for the first time since 2003 -- a particularly poignant season for Manor as it was the year Formula One sensation Lewis Hamilton, driving in Manor colours, claimed a famous championship victory in the one-make single-seater category.
Manor's current line-up is also packed full of burgeoning talent with Alexander Sims and Richard Singleton, in particular, looking most likely to spearhead the North Ollerton team's challenge for podium finishes on the 1.95-mile International Super Sportscar layout, an alternative configuration to the one utilised in 2003.
Having shown good pace during pre-season testing at the Northamptonshire venue, Peterborough-based Sims is certainly hoping to be in the running for a podium finish to add to the one he secured with Manor during last November's Winter Championship.
While the first two rounds of the season at Brands Hatch didn't see him shine as he expected to, through no fault of his own due to an engine failure in testing and then struggling with a down-on-power replacement, Rockingham should mark the true beginning of Sims' championship challenge.
Welshman Singleton was Manor's highest points scorer at Brands Hatch, the highlight of the weekend for driver and team being fifth position during round two, and having lapped with top-six pace at Thruxton on Wednesday this week during the first of two sessions of official testing, the Conwy driver is hopeful of an equally good showing next weekend.
Alex Morgan drove strongly in the season opener to show his improving racecraft, round one seeing the Birmingham resident's best result having climbed from the back of the grid, where he was forced to start due to brake issues in qualifying, to finish in 11th place.
Kris Loane marked his first race meeting as a Manor Competition driver with a best result of 13th place during round one and having shown good form at Rockingham in the official pre-season tests, the Co. Fermanagh driver will be bidding for his maiden top 10 finish in Formula Renault UK a week from now.
"We're obviously hoping for some good results at Rockingham", said Manor team boss Tony Shaw, "It's fair to say Brands Hatch wasn't the performance we had hoped for but we did have more than our fair share of problems.
"Our drivers are all gaining vital experience every time they go out on track and so I'm confident it won't be long before we're back on the podium. Hopefully we'll do our talking on the track next weekend."
Rockingham holds happy memories for Manor Under the team's former guise as Manor Motorsport, its last competitive visit to Rockingham came in 2003 when the Formula Renault UK Championship made its only previous racing appearance at the Northamptonshire venue.
Then, a new star was being born in the form of Lewis Hamilton as the young sensation climbed to the top step of the Rockingham podium on his way to an outstanding and richly deserved title-winning campaign with Manor.
Hamilton is now, of course, a star of Formula One with McLaren having taken a third place podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix in March -- his first ever F1 race -- and then going one better with second position during Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.
Manor Competition harbours strong hopes of helping to produce more F1 stars of the future with Sims and Singleton in particular showing all the signs of enjoying highly successful single-seater careers. Singleton is currently Manor's highest placed driver, joint-sixth in the main championship and third in the 'Graduate Cup' rankings.
Following pre-event testing at Rockingham a week today, Friday, 20th April, round three qualifying is timetabled to begin at 09.00 on Saturday, 21st April, with the round four session expected to start at 14.15. On Sunday, 22nd April, the third race of the season will commence at 10.35 with round four scheduled to get underway at 14.50. Both races will be broadcast live on cable and digital satellite subscription channel Setanta Sports 2.