FR UK CHAMPIONS MANOR MOTORSPORT ANNOUNCE FIRST SIGNINGS Reigning Formula Renault UK Champion entrant Manor Motorsport has confirmed the first three drivers it will field in this year's championship, which will begin at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit...
FR UK CHAMPIONS MANOR MOTORSPORT ANNOUNCE FIRST SIGNINGS
Reigning Formula Renault UK Champion entrant Manor Motorsport has confirmed the first three drivers it will field in this year's championship, which will begin at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent on 8th/9th April.
Chinese ace Cheng Congfu will spearhead the Dinnington team's attack on the 2006 series, his continued relationship with Manor offering the Oxford-based driver stability as he bids to go one better than the Vice-Champion's position he achieved in the 2005 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship.
After a successful second season of Formula Renault UK last year, 21-year-old Cheng thoroughly came of age in the winter series by taking a pair of pole positions and also earning his maiden Formula Renault UK race victory during round three at Croft.
Joining Cheng this year, and making his Formula Renault UK debut, will be 20-year-old French sensation Franck Mailleux who finished an excellent fifth overall in the French Formula Renault Championship in 2005, with one race victory to his credit.
Mailleux, who is widely regarded as one of the very best talents to emerge from France in recent years, could well surprise many of the established front-runners in Formula Renault UK this year and the pre-season testing pace displayed by the Rennes native has certainly been impressive.
Manor's third confirmed signing is Portuguese star Joao Vasconcelos who competed with Manor in the 2005 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship. The 23-year-old, from Braga in northern Portugal, did well to finish 14th overall in the 2005 winter series having been away from racing for two full years following a serious accident in 2003.
Vasconcelos improved markedly throughout last November's winter series and while, like new team-mate Mailleux, he will be handicapped by a lack of knowledge of the UK circuits hopes are high for an enjoyable and fruitful season.
Speaking on Manor's first three driver signings, Formula Renault UK team manager Tony Shaw said: "I'm absolutely delighted we've been able to agree deals with Franky (Cheng), Joao and Franck and as a team we're really looking forward to the season. The winter championship proved Franky has the capability to not only run at the front, but to also win against the toughest competition out there.
"Franck had a successful season in the French Formula Renault Championship last year and in testing he has shown excellent pace so we're confident he'll become a consistent front-runner and perhaps the surprise package of the year.
"Joao has gone well during the pre-season too and we're very much looking forward to working with him again. He impressed us with his application and willingness to learn during the winter series and we're confident he'll have a good year."
Shaw added: "Last season was incredible for us, winning both the driver and entrant's championships was a fantastic achievement. We never rest on our laurels though and we're going all out to win again this year and fight hard for pole positions, race victories and, hopefully, the Formula Renault UK title."
Cheng, Mailleux and Vasconcelos will be in action at Silverstone National Circuit on Wednesday and Thursday this week, 1st/2nd March, for the first official Formula Renault UK Championship test of the year.