SIMS STUNS REGULARS ON FRENCH FORMULA RENAULT DEBUT British motor racing star Alexander Sims stunned the established names of the French Formula Renault Championship over the weekend, 28th/29th April, after racing to an impressive fifth place ...
SIMS STUNS REGULARS ON FRENCH FORMULA RENAULT DEBUT
British motor racing star Alexander Sims stunned the established names of the French Formula Renault Championship over the weekend, 28th/29th April, after racing to an impressive fifth place finish during his first ever outing in the FFSA sanctioned series.
The Peterborough-based sensation, whose main commitment this year is driving in the Formula Renault UK Championship for crack-squad Manor Competition, elected to take part in the third and fourth rounds of the French series at Ledenon, near Nimes in the south of the country, and instantly impressed with some outstanding performances.
Qualifying at the highly technical circuit for the first of the weekend's races saw the British ace post the 11th best time, a lap of 1m 18.334 seconds (144.764 km/h) putting him three 10ths of a second ahead of countryman Jon Lancaster, a French Formula Renault regular.
At the start of Saturday's encounter, Alexander made a good getaway and instantly gained a position before some astute driving saw the J.O Sims, Ocean Spray, Northern Fruit Company, H.K Wing Long Packaging and Clink Street Properties-supported star gain a handful of further places after avoiding a multiple-car incident at the hairpin.
Following a Safety Car period, the first Alexander has ever experienced during his short career in single-seaters, the 19-year-old managed to gain another position to end his first ever outing in the French Formula Renault Championship in a superb fifth place.
Making strong improvements throughout the weekend in his Pole Services entered car, Alexander qualified for race two in eighth position with a lap time of 1m 18.763 seconds placing him just four 10ths of a second shy of a front row start. It also marked him out as the fastest Briton ahead of Lancaster and the experienced Craig Dolby.
The second of the weekend's races was a more straight-forward affair than the first and after gaining a position at the start, Alexander defended well under pressure to claim a top seven result to add to his earlier fifth place. Impressively, his best race lap of 1m 19.977 seconds was just a couple of 10ths of a second adrift of top three pace.
"It's been a very good weekend and I've really enjoyed the racing", said Alexander, "I've been improving my technique throughout the meeting, which is very important, and I think we made some good progress during qualifying and both races.
"To finish in the top five during the first race was fantastic from 11th on the grid and although we couldn't quite match that in race two, we certainly made good steps forward which I'm very happy with."
He added: "Obviously we came to Ledenon completely new to the track but I think we can be very satisfied with our performance at such a highly technical circuit. There are a lot of blind corners which you really need to commit to so I'm happy to come away with top five and top seven results having made good progress all weekend."
It remains to be seen whether or not Alexander will dovetail his Formula Renault UK campaign with further outings in the French Formula Renault Championship, the next meeting of which takes place at Dijon on 12th/13th May.
Thruxton next for Sims in Formula Renault UK
Returning to his Formula Renault UK commitments, Alexander's next track action is this coming weekend, 5th/6th May, at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire for the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2007 season.
Following on from seventh and 12th place finishes during the last two rounds of the UK series at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire, the Manor Competition ace is now bidding for his best performance of the year at Thruxton as he aims to improve on ninth position in the overall driver standings and fourth in the 'Graduate Cup'.
Pre-event testing for the Thruxton event actually took place just over a fortnight ago so Alexander will go straight into qualifying for his first ever race meeting at the ultra-fast circuit next Saturday, 5th May. The round five session is scheduled to start at 10.20 with round six qualifying following at 14.45.
Both races will take place on Sunday, 6th May, with round five timetabled to begin at 11.35 and round six expected to start at 16.05.