CRUCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND AWAITS MANOR AT SILVERSTONE New Ollerton-based Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship team Manor Competition heads to Silverstone National Circuit next weekend, 29th/30th August, for rounds 15 and 16 of the season,...
CRUCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND AWAITS MANOR AT SILVERSTONE
New Ollerton-based Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship team Manor Competition heads to Silverstone National Circuit next weekend, 29th/30th August, for rounds 15 and 16 of the season, two races which could prove crucial to the outcome of the 2009 championship.
With just six rounds remaining this year, including the brace of Silverstone outings, the squad's lead driver Dean Smith is currently second in the title chase -- just six points shy of the top on overall scores. However, with the championship's double 'drop-score' ruling taken into consideration, the 21-year-old is actually 19 points to the good over his closest rival.
Easily the most consistent competitor over the course of the last 10 races with an unbroken run of podium results stretching back to round five at Donington Park in May, the Wolverhampton racer has taken four victories, four second places, four pole positions and four fastest laps. In addition, he was also named 'Driver of the Day' for his race winning round seven performance at Oulton Park.
Manor Competition's second highest placed driver in the championship, David McDonald, has shown a superb turn of pace in recent events and with his confidence growing with every race meeting the 19-year-old from Ewell, Surrey, is now firmly established as a regular category front-runner.
At Snetterton in Norfolk three weeks ago McDonald enjoyed his strongest weekend of the season and just missed out on a maiden podium with a fine fourth place, his third of 2009, in the 14th round having earlier achieved a very strong top six result in round 13. Considering McDonald took a season out from racing last year due to budget restrictions, his performances have been highly impressive.
Alice Powell has achieved a brace of 'Driver of the Day' accolades so far this season, her first ever year in single-seaters, and the 16-year-old from Chipping Norton in West Oxfordshire continues to stun the paddock with pace and performances far belying her minimal experience.
Having achieved two top 10 results so far in the campaign, along with seven other points finishes, Powell is currently inside the top 20 in the main championship standings and seventh in the 'Graduate Cup' battle for category rookies.
Dutch racer Thomas Hylkema, who celebrated his 21st birthday this week, shone at Snetterton last time out and although he was eliminated from proceedings in round 14 through no fault of his own, his pace across the weekend was superb and he carved his way through the order brilliantly in the first encounter to record his third top 10 finish of the season.
Hylkema, who hails from Maarn in The Netherlands, undoubtedly has the speed to end his second season of Formula Renault UK action with a flourish and will be aiming to go into the final portion of the campaign with a brace of solid top 10 results at Silverstone next weekend.
Formula Renault UK did, of course, visit Silverstone earlier in the season as a support category to the World Series by Renault but those two rounds were contested on the full Grand Prix Circuit rather than the shorter, 1.6-mile National Circuit which will be utilised next weekend.
Looking ahead to the eighth race meeting of the season, team co-owner Sarah Shaw said: "The championship is reaching a critical point as far as the title battle goes and we're obviously hoping to make a return to the top step of the podium at Silverstone. Dean is in a great position but we need to maintain consistency to try and take the outright lead in the driver's championship.
"David, Alice and Thomas showed excellent pace at Snetterton and they all have the attributes to enjoy a strong run at Silverstone. David has been edging closer and closer to the podium and it would be fantastic if he can get there next weekend. Alice and Thomas have shown very good pace too but they've not quite had the luck recently, hopefully that'll be different at Silverstone."
Following pre-event practice on Friday, 28th August, qualifying for the 15th and 16th rounds of the season will be held on Saturday, 29th August, at 09.25 and 14.30 respectively. On Sunday, 30th August, the first 22-lap encounter will begin at 09.30 with race two -- which is set to be broadcast live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4 -- scheduled to get underway at 15.15.
2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings (after Rd14): 2nd Dean Smith, 318pts; 10th David McDonald, 167pts; 14th Thomas Hylkema, 89pts; 20th Alice Powell, 57pts
2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK 'Graduate Cup' Standings (after Rd14): 7th Alice Powell, 57pts
2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Team Standings (after Rd14): 2nd Manor Competition, 513pts