TRIPLE PODIUM SEASON FINALE FOR MANOR COMPETITION Nottinghamshire Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition enjoyed a successful end to the 2008 championship at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Sunday, 21st September, with Alexander Sims becoming ...
TRIPLE PODIUM SEASON FINALE FOR MANOR COMPETITION
Nottinghamshire Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition enjoyed a successful end to the 2008 championship at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Sunday, 21st September, with Alexander Sims becoming category Vice-Champion off the back of a double podium result and Kris Loane making his second visit to the rostrum of the season.
With 20-year-old Sims heading into the final two rounds of the year still in with a chance of claiming the 2008 title, the MSA British Race Elite driver defied the established logic of how near impossible overtaking is for Formula Renault UK cars on the tight 1.2-mile track by producing a brace of truly outstanding performances.
Lining up fifth on the grid for each race, Sims made incredible starts to both -- in the first he shot from the third row of the grid to third place at Paddock Hill Bend up the inside of title rival Adam Christodoulou and repeated the feat in the second encounter to make an unlikely double podium result a reality.
Racing to a third place finish in round 19, shadowing home 20-year-old team-mate Loane who secured a very richly deserved return to the podium for the first time since the fifth round of the campaign at Donington Park back in May to record a season's best finish, Sims ensured the title fight would go down to the final encounter of the season.
Televised live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4 on Sunday afternoon, round 20 saw Sims in inspired form once again with the highlight of the race his pass around the outside of Riki Christodoulou at Paddock Hill Bend; a jaw-dropping effort.
As the most consistently strong driver throughout the year, scoring points in every race and never finishing lower than ninth place, Sims ends the campaign as Vice-Champion behind Adam Christodoulou when drop-scores are taken into account. On overall scores though, the Manor ace ended the year one point ahead of his rival!
"It was always going to be a very big task this weekend to win the title due to the drop-score situation but I did as much as I possibly could and I have to thank the guys at Manor for giving me a good car", said Alexander, "We haven't had as many wins as I'd have liked this year but there have been plenty of podiums, it's been a fantastic year."
Season's best result for in-form Loane Kris Loane's round 19 performance came off the back of an outstanding job in qualifying where he recorded a front-row start for the first time this season. Lapping with a best time of 43.887 seconds (98.32mph), the Northern Irishman missed out on his first ever pole position start in the main summer season by just 0.079 seconds.
Driving a controlled race, Loane lapped very impressively throughout and posted the second fastest lap time en route to his runner-up placing less than two seconds behind winner Adriano Buzaid. In round 20, Loane finished in seventh place -- having started eighth on the grid -- to ensure he finished the year sixth overall in the championship.
Speaking after the first race, Loane said: "I'm very pleased with this result, I would have liked to have won and if I'd made a better start I think we could have. My start wasn't that great but I held on to second so it could have been much worse. It's nice to end the season with another podium for both me and the team."
Henry Surtees concluded his maiden season of Formula Renault UK action with a brace of 11th place finishes in the two Brands Hatch races, climbing from 12th on the grid in the first encounter and from 15th position in the second outing.
Securing the 17-year-old 12th position overall in the driver standings, he missed out on claiming 11th place in the championship by just a single point. In the 'Graduate Cup' standings, a championship within a championship for young, inexperienced drivers, Surtees was sixth overall.
Single-seater rookie Tom Armour ended his first year of competition in Formula Renault UK 16th overall in the championship and eighth in the Graduate Cup rankings after another fine run.
Lining up 14th on the grid for round 19, the product of an excellent job in qualifying where he lapped just over six 10ths of a second shy of pole position, the 19-year-old ended the race a couple of laps down in 19th position after contact from Daniel Ivarsson at Clearways on lap four necessitated an enforced pit-stop.
Much like Silverstone three weeks ago, when he returned to the track Armour lapped quickly and he actually posted the best lap of any Graduate Cup runner and the sixth fastest of all -- highly impressive. In round 20, meanwhile, he finished in 16th position.
In the Entrants Championship, New Ollerton based Manor Competition concluded the season third overall on 810 points, just 23 points shy of the runner-up placing.
Manor team owner Tony Shaw commented: "This weekend's results reward all of the effort every single member of the team has put in. I want to pay tribute to the hard work of everyone at Manor Competition, they've done a fantastic job.
"Obviously Alexander's performance was superb but Kris' podium, and his excellent performance in qualifying, was equally special. We had the pace to win the title this year but a few things didn't go our way. At Brands at the start of the year Alexander didn't get away from pole position and then at Donington he was driven off the track.
"Without just those two incidents, the championship picture would have been much different. Working with all four drivers has been an absolute pleasure this year and we would love to work with any of them again in 2009."
The team's focus will now turn to the four-race 2008 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship which will begin at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Saturday, 1st November, and will end at Rockingham in Northamptonshire the following weekend.