MANOR COMPETITION -- SEASON FINALE PREVIEW Multiple Formula Renault UK Champion entrant Manor Competition heads into next weekend's season finale at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit still in with a chance of lifting the 2008 driver's title with ...
MANOR COMPETITION -- SEASON FINALE PREVIEW
Multiple Formula Renault UK Champion entrant Manor Competition heads into next weekend's season finale at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit still in with a chance of lifting the 2008 driver's title with 20-year-old star Alexander Sims.
Having enjoyed a consistently strong run during the second half of the campaign, Sims has achieved some excellent results for the renowned Nottinghamshire squad and going into rounds 19 and 20 over the weekend 20th/21st September, one slip up from long-time series leader Adam Christodoulou could well put Manor in the frame for title success.
Although the task which faces Sims and his New Ollerton team is an incredibly tough one, especially at the short 1.2-mile Indy Circuit where overtaking in a Formula Renault UK car is extremely difficult, Manor did show well at the start of the current season at Brands Hatch where Sims achieved pole position for the opening round of the campaign.
Finishing on the podium 10 times so far this season, including two visits to the top step following victories at Snetterton and Silverstone National, Alexander has been on the rostrum during four of the last fives races so is in good form ahead of the championship decider next weekend.
Kris Loane, who is currently seventh overall in the driver standings and has undoubted pace, has been very impressive in testing but recent races haven't quite gone his way, hampering his charge and blunting the early season promise shown by the 20-year-old.
Very much one of the quickest drivers in Formula Renault UK, the Northern Irishman will be keen to return to the podium at Brands Hatch and enjoy a trouble-free weekend as he strives to end the season in the championship top six. As it currently stands, Loane is just 12 points away from the coveted sixth place.
Henry Surtees heads to Brands Hatch on a high having secured his first ever Formula Renault UK podium finish at Silverstone last time out. The 17-year-old, son of legendary Formula One and World Motorcycling Champion John Surtees OBE, has steadily improved throughout the season and especially over the last few events.
There's no reason why the rookie racer can't end the championship with a major flourish and as he is just 11 points shy of 10th place in the standings, another performance like the one at Silverstone could put him firmly in contention to ensure Manor concludes 2008 with three of its four drivers inside the top 10.
First year single-seater racer Tom Armour has also shone in terms of performance and pace recently as he adapts more and more to Formula Renault UK action. Although a first lap incident during round 18 at Silverstone forced him to pit for a new nose cone and front wing, Armour produced an inspired drive which saw him match Sims' lap times.
Following his pit-stop, the 19-year-old was a lap down in 13th position but running fifth on the road he was actually catching fourth-placed finisher Sims -- an outstanding effort. At Brands Hatch next weekend, one of Armour's 'home' tracks, he will be aiming to show much more of his ever developing racecraft and speed.
Clearly at the tight and twisty Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, qualifying strongly will be of paramount importance and Manor Competition team boss Tony Shaw is only too aware of the critical role the qualifying sessions will play in the outcome of the title race.
He said: "We're all looking forward to Brands Hatch, it's fantastic we're still in a position to fight for the championship with Alexander and while it will be a very tall order, we're going to give it our absolute all -- you never know what might happen. Qualifying will be the key though, we simply must perform there to stand any chance in the races.
"Kris deserves to be back on the podium, he obviously has the pace and racecraft to do that and hopefully the weekend will run smoothly for him. Henry's first podium at Silverstone was fantastic and we hope he'll be as strong next weekend. The same goes for Tom too, his race two performance at Silverstone was superb."
Free practice ahead of the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit season finale will be held on Friday, 19th September, with qualifying for rounds 19 and 20 taking place on Saturday, 20th September, at 09.25 and 14.40 respectively.
Both races are timetabled for Sunday, 21st September, with round 19 getting underway at 10.05 and round 20 concluding the day's action at 17.15. Please check listings for details of any live coverage on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4.
Provisional 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship Driver Standings (after Rd18 inc. drop scores): 2nd Alexander Sims, 396pts; 7th Kris Loane, 252pts; 12th Henry Surtees, 183pts, 16th Tom Armour, 102pts