MANOR RE-AFFIRMS FRONT-RUNNING PACE AT OULTON TEST Bouncing back strongly from a tricky start to the 2008 Formula Renault UK season at the weekend, multiple champion squad Manor Competition re-affirmed its undoubted pace at Oulton Park Island ...
MANOR RE-AFFIRMS FRONT-RUNNING PACE AT OULTON TEST
Bouncing back strongly from a tricky start to the 2008 Formula Renault UK season at the weekend, multiple champion squad Manor Competition re-affirmed its undoubted pace at Oulton Park Island Circuit yesterday, Tuesday, 1st April, during official testing.
Alexander Sims, who achieved pole position during qualifying for round one of the campaign on Saturday, 29th March, at Brands Hatch, before a broken neutral cable robbed him of the chance to start his title bid in winning ways, responded to his and the team's disappointment by posting the fastest time during the first session yesterday.
Lapping in 1m 20.275 seconds (99.82mph), the 20-year-old was closely followed by very impressive team-mate Kris Loane whose best time of the morning, 1m 20.374 seconds (99.70mph) was just 0.099 seconds slower than Sims and placed him in third. Both were evenly matched and, importantly, produced their pace on very old tyres.
Henry Surtees, meanwhile, recorded the eighth quickest lap with a time of 1m 20.607 seconds (99.41mph) and was also third fastest of the drivers eligible for Graduate Cup honours this season. With every outing the son of ex-Formula One World Champion and multiple World Motorcycling Champion, John, is moving further up the pecking order.
In the afternoon, conditions became changeable and so the session turned into something of a lottery. The fastest Manor driver was Surtees, the 17-year-old producing one of his most promising outings since graduating from Formula BMW UK with the third best time at the Cheshire venue, a lap of 1m 20.647 seconds (99.36mph).
Loane followed close behind in fourth position with a time of 1m 20.779 seconds (99.20mph) while Sims chose to only complete eight laps during the three and half hours of track time. He ended the session in 17th position. On combined times though, Sims ended the day second overall, Loane fourth and Surtees eighth.
Tony Shaw, Manor Competition team boss, said: "The test went really well, we had very good pace with Alexander, Kris and Henry in both the wet and dry and we completed a lot of very constructive work. The track was quite slow due to the conditions so we didn't use any good tyres at all. To be so competitive in those circumstances was great.
"It was nice to have a good day after the difficulties at Brands Hatch. Actually, Alexander would have been quickest overall on combined times had it not been for problems with his transponder on several quick laps. Renault Sport UK has been very good in looking into this and confirming it for us so we thank them for that."
Team co-owner Sarah Shaw added: "One of the best things about the test for us was to come out and be consistently fast with all three drivers. It's re-assuring to know we have the pace to be right at the front and that, without the problems which were nobody's fault at Brands, we would have been in very good shape.
"Kris was great in the wet, which was important, and he was the quickest driver on track in the afternoon until he pitted, only then was he headed. We proved the team can perform well in all conditions so we're very happy with our overall performance."
Further good news for Manor Competition comes in the form of Sims' acceptance onto the prestigious MSA British Race Elite programme which has been announced this week. He is one of just six drivers selected as fresh 2008 intake for the scheme which is backed by the Motor Sports Association, the governing body of motor racing in the UK.
Manor returns to the track next Monday, 7th April, for more official testing, this time at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire. Rounds three and four of the Formula Renault UK season then follow on 12th/13th April at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.