LUCKLESS WINTER CAMPAIGN ENDS POSITIVELY FOR SIMS
Alexander Sims was able to raise a smile at Croft Circuit on Saturday, 10th November, after finishing sixth during the final round of the Formula Renault UK Winter Championship at the North Yorkshire venue -- the Manor Competition star undoubtedly ending the four race series as the most luckless driver of the campaign.
Entering the winter series as one of the true favourites for title glory, the 19-year-old from Peterborough endured a torrid start to his championship bid at Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire last weekend and his luck didn't improve on Saturday with a tricky qualifying session followed by a frightening start-line incident in round three.
After being taken out of qualifying at Donington Park by a slower car, Alexander was forced to start from 26th on the grid for the first round of the championship but an incredible performance over the first two laps saw him climb into the top 14 before a multi-car incident forced him to retire at Goddards Chicane.
Hoping to at least finish round two, the Cambridgeshire racer then suffered further disappointment when the driveshaft on his car broke on the green-flag formation lap meaning he took zero points from a weekend he was fully expecting to leave as a title contender. Heading into Saturday's action at Croft, a double victory was the aim.
Very unfortunately for the Formula Renault UK race winner, the first of the Croft outings offered nothing more than a continuation of his run of terrible luck. Unsighted by another car, Alexander had no chance at all to avoid the stalled car of Jon Lancaster which he slammed into the back of on the start-line; thankfully both drivers avoided injury.
With huge damage to the front-end of his Formula Renault, a race against time began for his Manor mechanics to try and repair the car in readiness for the fourth and final round which they did with a tremendous effort.
Alexander, who is backed by Spalding-based J.O Sims, Ocean Spray, Italian company ILIP and US sponsors Stemilt Growers and Northern Fruit Company, started the second of the Croft races from 13th on the grid and after making up one position on the opening lap he then climbed into the top 10 on the second tour.
On lap three, an incident at the exit of Sunny Out involving Lancaster, Manor team-mate Kris Loane and Richard Singleton, enabled Alexander to nip through into seventh place and he then moved into the top six on lap six where he would remain to the end.
Over the final few laps he did reel-in cousins Adam and Riki Christodoulou and at the chequered flag on lap 16, Alexander was just a second behind the pair and less than three seconds shy of the podium. While sixth on the road, he did claim the points for fifth position due to second-placed Valtteri Bottas being ineligible to score.
Although bitterly disappointed with the bad luck which beset his Winter Championship campaign, Alexander was still pleased to finish round four inside the top six from 13th on the grid and also post the third fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m 18.450 seconds.
Reflecting on the four-round series, he commented: "We've had awful luck right the way through the winter series so it was nice to be able to finish a race and actually score some points! I'm obviously bitterly disappointed with how things have gone as we obviously came into the series knowing we could challenge for the title.
"Donington was a complete disaster through no fault of our own and the same happened in the first of this weekend's races. I made a good start but there was nothing I could do to avoid Lancaster's stalled car. The team did a fantastic job and worked very hard to get my car ready for the second race so I want to thank them for all their efforts."
Alexander added: "We know we have the pace to be consistently at the front in Formula Renault, we just need better luck. I've enjoyed the year as a whole though and if we're back next year in the UK I'm confident we'll be fighting for the championship for sure."
Now preparing for a winter testing programme as he evaluates his options for 2008, Alexander sees a return to Formula Renault UK as his most likely destination next year but is also weighing up the possibility of competing in Europe. Please continue to visit www.alexandersims.com for all the latest news.