McDONALD SECURES SEASON BEST TOP EIGHT AT THRUXTON Surrey racer David McDonald produced his best performance so far in the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at Thruxton Circuit on Sunday, 26th April, with a battling top eight finish...
McDONALD SECURES SEASON BEST TOP EIGHT AT THRUXTON
Surrey racer David McDonald produced his best performance so far in the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at Thruxton Circuit on Sunday, 26th April, with a battling top eight finish during the fourth round of the campaign.
On a mixed weekend for Nottinghamshire based Manor Competition, McDonald produced the highlight performance during Sunday afternoon's encounter as part of a close-run race with team newcomer, and championship returnee, Dean Smith and Dutch team-mate Thomas Hylkema.
Climbing into the top eight from 20th on the grid, 19-year-old McDonald was in great form and just shaded 2007 Formula Renault UK Vice-Champion Smith by nine 10ths of a second at the chequered flag on lap 19.
Hylkema, who had been running in the tight midfield pack, was unfortunately forced to retire with a cut tyre while the championship's youngest competitor, Alice Powell, was also taken out of proceedings when she was involved in contact with Ollie Hancock and Jordan Williams at the exit of the complex.
After being squeezed by Hancock as they ran closely on lap five, the cars touched and Williams' Formula Renault then collided with the back of Powell's car, destroying the rear wing and causing further rear-end damage to mean an unavoidable and disappointing retirement.
Saturday's opening race of the weekend required a major effort from Manor's quartet due to qualifying not working out as planned. With the session taking place on a damp yet drying track, teams had to gamble on when -- if at all -- to utilise slick tyres.
Sadly for Smith, he was the first driver to take the chequered flag at the end of the session just as he was about to head onto his fastest lap. In the first sector alone after the chequer was displayed, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star was significantly faster but the time wouldn't count so he had to start from an uncharacteristic 22nd on the grid.
The situation was exactly the same for the other Manor drivers with Powell 24th, McDonald 25th and Hylkema 26th for round three. However, the worst luck was to come at the start of Saturday's race when contact between several cars off the line resulted in both McDonald and Hylkema colliding with the pit wall -- a bitterly disappointing occurrence.
Smith fought his way through well into a 13th place finish on lap 19 while Powell was also in good form to climb into the top 16 as she continues to improve in her first season of single-seater action in the UK's premier junior championship.
Commenting on the weekend, Manor Competition team boss Tony Shaw said: "Qualifying was where the problems started really, from there you're always going to struggle in the races and that's what happened. We had a lot of bad luck this weekend but the drivers did a great job of fighting through to respectable finishes.
"It was such a shame for David and Thomas to be involved in the start-line collision in the first race but David's performance in race two was excellent. Alice continues to impress considering her limited experience and it was just unfortunate she was in the wrong place at the wrong time when her car was hit from behind."
Shaw added: "Obviously we have very high hopes for Dean, he's a quality driver. This weekend was always going to be tough as Dean hasn't driven a Formula Renault at Thruxton since 2007 but he did a good job and we're looking forward to the Croft test next week now where the work really starts."
Manor Competition's next outing will come during a two-day official Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship test at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Wednesday, 6th May, and Thursday, 7th May.
Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire is then scheduled to host rounds five and six of the 2009 season over the weekend 16th/17th May.