SIMS HAPPY WITH DOUBLE POINTS FINISH ON EUROCUP DEBUT British single-seater star Alexander Sims made his presence felt on his Eurocup Formula Renault debut at Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France over the weekend, 6th/7th September, by taking a...
SIMS HAPPY WITH DOUBLE POINTS FINISH ON EUROCUP DEBUT
British single-seater star Alexander Sims made his presence felt on his Eurocup Formula Renault debut at Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France over the weekend, 6th/7th September, by taking a brace of well deserved top 10 points-scoring finishes -- a terrific return at a track he has never previously visited.
Joining the renowned SG Formula squad for his first ever run in the category, the 20-year-old from Wansford in Cambridgeshire enjoyed the valuable track experience against a hugely competitive field, especially bearing in mind the championship deciding rounds of the Formula Renault UK series are just a fortnight away.
Speaking after the second Le Mans encounter today, Sunday, 7th September, Alexander commented: "It's been a pretty useful weekend really, I only came here to learn the track. I've enjoyed the opportunity to race at Le Mans and I think we did a decent job. During today's race in the dry the car was quite well balanced and we ran fairly well.
"We didn't have the best straight-line speed but I'm still quite pleased with our lap times, especially considering we hardly had any dry running over the course of the weekend. Before the first race we'd only had six laps in dry conditions so to come away with a couple of points finishes isn't a bad result at all."
During his first group test session on Friday morning, Alexander produced the seventh fastest time before going on to improve in session two with the fourth quickest effort. Like the practice runs, qualifying on Friday afternoon took place on a wet track and the SG driver concluded the session 10th fastest.
With his performance good enough to take him through to the coveted Superpole session -- which determines the top 24 positions on the grid for the weekend's races -- Alexander's penultimate lap saw him qualify for his first ever Eurocup Formula Renault race in a solid 10th place with a lap of 1m 38.944 seconds (152.1 km/h).
At the start of Saturday's encounter, he made an excellent getaway and carved his way past several cars to move into fifth position before the end of the first sector of the opening lap. Just behind, a number of cars made contact which resulted in the deployment of the Safety Car, the re-start coming on lap five.
Into lap six, Alexander was just two 10ths of a second shy of fourth placed championship leader Valtteri Bottas but a moment later in the lap saw the MSA British Race Elite star slip behind German driver Tobias Hegewald.
Remaining in sixth position for the remainder of the race, Alexander was very happy to come away with a result inside the first half dozen cars on his Eurocup Formula Renault debut and his first ever appearance at Le Mans.
He said: "The car was solid from the off during testing on Friday so I've had no complaints there. Qualifying was a little frustrating as we should have been faster but at least we went through into Superpole which was the main thing.
"I had a good start in the first race, up into fifth place very quickly, and then we had the Safety Car. We struggled a little later on but as we hadn't really had any dry running before the race it was always going to be about getting a good start, survive as long as possible and then try and find the limits."
For the second Le Mans race today, Sunday, 7th September, the British sensation lined up 11th on the grid thanks to his second best lap of the Superpole session, 1m 39.902 seconds -- less than a second shy of the pole position time.
With the track fully dry, Alexander made a good start and had gained two positions by the time he exited the first corner, running in ninth place. On lap seven, Tobias Hegewald managed to find a way past to demote him to 10th position but Alexander soon gained a place again on the eighth tour when Mathieu Arzeno slipped down the order.
Remaining in ninth place to the chequered flag on lap 17, the British sensation was happy to conclude his maiden weekend of Eurocup action with another points finish.
UK Championship decider just two weeks away
Alexander's focus now is the finale of the Formula Renault UK Championship which will take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in a fortnight's time, 20th/21st September. After a couple of outstanding race performances last weekend at Silverstone for his regular Manor Competition team, the 20-year-old still has a chance of lifting the 2008 title.
Just 10 points behind long-time championship leader Adam Christodoulou on overall scores, in Formula Renault UK each competitor has to 'drop' their two worst scores from the 20 rounds contested so when that is taken into consideration at this stage, Alexander is actually 34 points behind.
While facing a tall order to overturn Christodoulou's advantage at Brands Hatch, the MSA British Race Elite driver will be giving his all to claim his first ever car racing championship success after a remarkably consistent season in which he has taken two race victories and eight other podium results.
"Obviously it's still realistically Adam's title to lose but we didn't expect Silverstone to turn out as it did so we have to keep pushing", said Alexander, "Hopefully we'll have a strong car and be competitive in qualifying and the races.
"At Brands Hatch Indy it's massively important to qualify at the front, we need to do that and then if Adam makes any mistakes we need to be in a position to capitalise. I'm really looking forward to the final two rounds of the season -- anything could happen."
Following pre-event practice at Brands Hatch on Friday, 19th September, qualifying for round 19 of the Formula Renault UK Championship will take place at 09.25 on Saturday, 20th September, with the round 20 session getting underway at 14.40.
The decisive final two races of the 2008 season will be held on Sunday, 20th September, with round 19 timetabled to begin the day's action at 10.05 and round 20 closing the activity at the Kent venue at approximately 17.15.