PUNCTURE DOESN'T DEFLATE SIMS' TOP DONINGTON PERFORMANCE Peterborough's Alexander Sims consolidated eighth position in the Formula Renault UK driver standings at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit yesterday,Sunday, 9th September, after backing up...
PUNCTURE DOESN'T DEFLATE SIMS' TOP DONINGTON PERFORMANCE
Peterborough's Alexander Sims consolidated eighth position in the Formula Renault UK driver standings at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit yesterday,Sunday, 9th September, after backing up an excellent top four result in round 17 with eighth place in round 18.
The Manor Competition ace, who is sponsored by Italian company ILIP, had terrific pace all weekend and but for a very unfortunate puncture during the second of Sunday'sraces, the 19-year-old could have bagged his third podium of the campaign.
During Saturday's sole 20-minute qualifying session, Alexander led the Manor charge by posting the fourth fastest time for the round 17 grid with a lap of 1m 29.398 seconds (162 kph) and his excellent consistency was rewarded with the third quickest time for round 18, his second-best qualifying lap a time of 1m 29.421 seconds.
With approximately 135,000 spectators said to have attended this weekend's World Series by Renault-supporting event at Donington, the race meeting was undoubtedly the biggest of Alexander's career and he certainly stepped up to the plate well with two quality race drives.
Round 17saw the former Stamford School pupil make a good, clean getaway and into Redgate Corner for the first time he maintained fourth position while also putting third-placed Dean Smith under pressure before going on to take the position from the then series leader.
Under huge pressure in return from Smith on the run down through the Old Hairpin on lap two, Alexander coped very well indeed and for the next six laps or so the Manor ace managed to hold on to the final podium spot. Lap eight would provide the decisive moment though.
Smith seized the advantage at Redgate but Alexander wasn't about to concede the place without a fight and running side-by-side with Smith through the fast, daunting Craner Curves he managed to retake third place. Carrying great momentum through the Old Hairpin, Alexander did run wide but worked miracles to stay ahead.
Unfortunately for him though, Smith managed to nose back ahead into Melbourne Hairpin meaning Alexander had to settle for fourth position, still a good result, and with it the fourth fastest race lap with a time of 1m 30.318 seconds.
Round 18 saw the Cambridgeshire-based sensation line-up third on the grid and after a good start he held the inside line through Redgate for the first time but fourth-placed Smith made slight contact with Alexander's rear tyre, resulting in an unscheduled pit stop for the Manor star.
While the Safety Car was deployed in order to recover two cars from the gravel at the Old Hairpin, Alexander's team rapidly changed the wheel and checked the car for further damage before sending it back onto track ahead of the Safety Car, the great work meaning he was able to rejoin the train of cars at the rear rather than fall a lap behind.
At the re-start on lap five, Alexander knew he had a tough job ahead of him to salvage anything from the race but an inspired drive saw the multiple karting champion quickly scythe his way through the order, climbing from 15th on lap six to ninth place by lap 13.
On the 15th and final tour, Alexander then made another position following a mistake by Richard Singleton which saw the former Manor driver end his race in the gravel trap. The tenacity and race-craft displayed by Alexander was superb and the eighth place finish was certainly deserved after such an excellent fightback.
"It's frustrating when you know the pace is there to be up at the front and you have problems but to finish eighth after the puncture was pretty good going. Big thanks to the team for getting the wheel changed so quickly to get me back out of the pits ahead of the Safety Car", commented Alexander, reflecting on the second race.
"I don't think we should be too disappointed with eighth position considering it could have been a retirement had the tyre completely gone at the first corner. The first race was pretty good too, I wanted to be on the podium but (Dean) Smith had more pace today and we weren't quite able to match him in that race."
He added: "We had hoped to challenge for more this weekend but it's still been a decent race meeting for us and it was certainly good fun racing in-front of the tens of thousands of spectators that attended. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways, or podiums at least, during the final two races of the year at Thruxton in October."
The Formula Renault UK Championship finale, rounds 19 and 20 of the season, will take place at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire on 13th/14th October.