MANOR QUICKEST AT FIRST OFFICIAL TEST OF 2008 Multiple Formula Renault UK Champion entrant Manor Competition made the perfect start to official pre-season testing at Rockingham Motor Speedway this week, the Nottinghamshire team locking out the...
MANOR QUICKEST AT FIRST OFFICIAL TEST OF 2008
Multiple Formula Renault UK Champion entrant Manor Competition made the perfect start to official pre-season testing at Rockingham Motor Speedway this week, the Nottinghamshire team locking out the top two positions on combined times.
After two days of intensive action at Rockingham's International Super Sports Circuit, Alexander Sims emerged with the fast time of 1m 15.112 seconds (93.41mph) which he posted during the final session yesterday, Wednesday, 27th February.
Team-mate Kris Loane produced almost identical pace on the second afternoon of the test, his best lap of 1m 15.118 seconds (93.40mph) just six 1,000ths of a second shy of Sims' quickest time. With both drivers returning to the Manor fold for a second season this year, the team is benefiting from excellent continuity as it bids to win the 2008 title.
Manor newcomer Henry Surtees, son of the legendary Formula One and World Motorcycling Champion John Surtees, made a terrific start himself to 2008 with the eighth fastest time overall.
His best time of 1m 15.495 seconds (92.93mph) was less than four 10ths of a second shy of Sims' quickest lap and also the second fastest time by a rookie driver eligible for the 2008 Graduate Cup. However, his pace would have been almost indistinguishable from that of Sims and Loane had he not suffered an unfortunate rear suspension failure.
Reflecting on two very successful days of testing at Rockingham, Manor team owner Tony Shaw said: "I'm absolutely delighted we set the two fastest times overall with Alexander and Kris while Henry did a great job too. It's such a shame he had the rear suspension breakage as there's a realistic chance we could have been one, two, three.
"We've been working very hard over the winter and I'm over the moon with the progress of all three drivers. On the first day there were problems with the timing so the picture isn't actually as it reads on the official timings. Kris set a lap of 1m 15.9 seconds which would have placed him right at the top but he was only credited with a lap of 1m 16.3.
"Obviously this is the first official pre-season test so there's still a long way to go before the season starts at the end of March. We're feeling confident though, everyone at Manor is working very well together and we're certain we'll be strong. Our aim is to win the title and we're focused on mounting a sustained challenge to achieve that goal."
The aforementioned timing issues during the opening day on Tuesday, 26th February, mean too much shouldn't be read into the final placings as some drivers weren't actually credited with their genuine quickest laps.
On the timesheets as they stand, however, 19-year-old Sims was third fastest with a lap of 1m 16.011 seconds (92.30mph), just five 100ths of a second shy of the top spot, while fellow 19-year-old Loane was only shown with a time of 1m 16.436 seconds (91.79mph).
Exciting category rookie Surtees, who will embark on his first full season in Formula Renault UK this year having become a race winner in Formula BMW UK in 2007, was credited with a time of 1m 16.357 seconds (91.88mph).
Bringing one of the most famous surnames in motor racing history to the Manor fold this year, the 17-year-old Surrey driver did debut in Formula Renault UK during the final two rounds of the 2007 championship and also raced in last November's winter series.
Along with Cambridgeshire sensation Sims and Northern Ireland star Loane, both of whom head into 2008 gunning for championship glory, Surtees is also aiming high for a season which promises to be a very successful one for Manor Competition.
Arguably the most famous and successful team in the history of Formula Renault UK, the New Ollerton squad is renowned for having steered the two best racing drivers in the world to Formula Renault UK title glory.
After taking current Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen to Formula Renault UK success in 2000, the team achieved the same result with F1 World Championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton in 2003. Two years later, current A1GP Team Great Britain driver Oliver Jarvis raced to Formula Renault UK championship victory in Manor colours.
The team will be back in action next Tuesday, 4th March, and Wednesday, 5th March, at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit for the second of the pre-season's official Formula Renault UK tests. The Kent venue will actually host the first two rounds of the 2008 championship on 29th/30th March.