BACK TO THE FRONT FOR MANOR AT DONINGTON PARK Manor Competition re-assumed its rightful place at the sharp end of the Formula Renault UK grid during round 11 qualifying at Donington Park National Circuit this afternoon, the New Ollerton squad ...
BACK TO THE FRONT FOR MANOR AT DONINGTON PARK
Manor Competition re-assumed its rightful place at the sharp end of the Formula Renault UK grid during round 11 qualifying at Donington Park National Circuit this afternoon, the New Ollerton squad seeing Alexander Sims achieve the team's first front-row start of the season with an outstanding performance.
The 19-year-old Peterborough ace, who arrived at the Leicestershire venue on a high after taking pole position for Manor at Val de Vienne in France last Sunday ahead of the eighth round of the French Formula Renault Championship, looked as though he would make it two consecutive pole positions but just missed out by a mere 0.062 seconds.
Team-mates Alex Morgan and Kris Loane both looked strong too throughout qualifying, the former achieving a career-best Formula Renault UK top 10 start in the round 11 session with Loane only missing out on a potential top seven grid slot after being baulked by slower traffic on his best laps.
During this morning's round 11 session, Sims made his intentions clear by moving into the top three at the halfway point before edging onto the front row and then, with just over three minutes remaining he went to the top of the times before consolidating the place with an even quicker lap.
The trading of times eventually saw Sims' best lap of 1m 06.774 seconds (105.52mph) good enough for second on the grid, just six 100ths of a second shy of pole and fastest of the Graduate Cup runners, while Morgan's quickest lap of 1m 07.566 seconds (104.28mph) saw him achieve a richly deserved career best start in single-seaters.
Loane's best lap of round 11 qualifying, 1m 07.691 seconds (104.09mph), placed him 13th fastest on the timing screens while a marginally quicker lap of 1m 07.516 seconds (104.36mph) during the second session proved to be the 14th quickest.
Morgan secured an 11th place grid slot for round 12 with a lap of 1m 07.364 seconds (104.59mph) while Sims wasn't quite able to continue his streak of front-row starts, a time of 1m 06.822 seconds (105.44mph) placing him sixth on the grid.
"I'm delighted with how all three of our guys have driven today," said Manor team boss Tony Shaw, "Speed-wise, we've made a big leap forward and to achieve consecutive front-row starts with Alexander, having been on pole during the French Formula Renault Championship round at Val de Vienne last Sunday, is fantastic for us.
"Being back on the front-row in the UK championship is terrific and to see Alex achieve his first ever top 10 start is equally as pleasing, it's just a shame Kris had traffic on his fast laps as he has been showing very good pace and should by rights have been in the top 10 too. The whole team has done a superb job, I'm very proud of them."
Shaw added: "We've been saying all year we can challenge at the front, we know we have a good car and it's all about the amount of track time the drivers have had available to them. Now we've had a couple of good tests we're looking strong once again and back where we should be. We're all really looking forward to tomorrow."
Round 11 of the 2007 Formula Renault UK Championship will take place at 10.40 tomorrow, Sunday, 15th July, with round 12 scheduled to follow at 16.10. Both races will be shown live on digital satellite and cable subscription channel Setanta Sports 1.