DELIGHTED SIMS ON SILVERSTONE PODIUM IN FRONT OF 70,000 FANS Nottinghamshire based Formula Renault UK entrant Manor Competition celebrated its sixth podium finish of the 2008 season at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 8th June -- MSA ...
DELIGHTED SIMS ON SILVERSTONE PODIUM IN FRONT OF 70,000 FANS
Nottinghamshire based Formula Renault UK entrant Manor Competition celebrated its sixth podium finish of the 2008 season at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 8th June -- MSA British Race Elite member Alexander Sims racing strongly from sixth on the grid to the third step on the rostrum in front of an incredible 70,000-strong crowd.
Starting round 12 from the third row of the grid, one place behind team-mate Kris Loane, Sims ran in sixth place for the first few laps before starting to carve his way through the upper order. Pressuring fifth-placed Dean Stoneman on lap four, Sims was ultra-late on the brakes into Abbey to take the position.
Next in the sights of the 20-year-old Manor driver was James Calado who, battling hard to defend his position while carrying a broken front wing, succumbed to Sims' pressure at Priory on lap six.
Some three and a half seconds shy of third placed Josh Scott heading into lap seven, Sims closed the gap down to nothing by lap 11 and on the 14th tour he forced his rival into a mistake under braking for Stowe, Sims taking third to the delight of the team.
Northern Ireland 20-year-old Loane, meanwhile had problems getting away from the grid cleanly and headed into Copse corner for the first time at the tail of the field having qualified in a competitive fifth place. He produced a superb recovery though, lapping with pace comparable to that of fifth-placed Stoneman.
By lap three he was into the top 14 and on lap nine had climbed to within touching distance of the top 10 in 11th position. Ending the race in 10th spot, Loane crossed the line just four 10ths behind James Calado and around two seconds clear of Kieran Clark.
Rescuing a terrific top 10 finish from what looked set to be a low points score at the start of the race, Loane faired better in the first of the weekend's races -- round 11 -- where he maintained his starting position of sixth throughout and was the quickest Manor driver with a best lap time of 1m 49.033 seconds.
For Sims, round 11 produced a top five result -- again where he started on the grid -- but he did come under huge pressure from team-mate Loane during the closing stages. The pair were separated by just seven 10ths of a second at the chequered flag.
Surtees disappointed but good consistency for Armour Henry Surtees didn't enjoy the best of weekends in terms of the races, although qualifying went quite well with his consistency delivering an 11th place start for round 11 and a top 10 grid placing for round 12. On lap two of Sunday's first race, Surtees had a spin while battling for position heading onto Hangar Straight and was forced to retire.
In race two, Surtees ran wide as he headed towards Becketts and bounced over the grass, spinning but luckily rejoining, albeit with damage to his front wing.
Arriving at the pits a long way down on the leaders, the Formula Renault UK rookie headed back into the race after the team had worked on his car and although a lap down he did finish in the final points-paying place of 20th position having also set the sixth fastest lap in the process -- proof of what might have been possible without the spin.
Manor's most inexperienced driver, Tom Armour, once again raced well to out-perform more established rivals. From the last row of the grid in round 11, Armour climbed into the top 14 at the finish while in round 12 he achieved a top 15 finish having begun the race in an improved 20th place.
Posting a best race lap of 1m 50.559 seconds, just half a second shy of the quickest times managed by drivers in the lower end of the top 10, Armour made good progress throughout the championship's biggest weekend of the season -- Formula Renault UK racing in support of the British round of the World Series by Renault.
Speaking on the Silverstone event, Manor Competition team boss Tony Shaw said: "To end the weekend on such a high with the podium was a great feeling. We didn't quite get it right in qualifying and in the first race we were disappointed not to have challenged for a podium there.
"We're happy we've made some very good progress this weekend with the set-up and it's given the whole team a boost ahead of Snetterton in three weeks. We need to start recording some race wins now, that's our aim for the next two rounds of the season."
There is now a lengthy five week break in the Formula Renault UK calendar until the series retakes its regular place on the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship package at Snetterton in Norfolk on 12th/13th July.
With the 10th round of the season at Croft a week ago unable to be contested due to timetable restrictions caused by adverse weather, the race will be held at Snetterton alongside rounds 13 and 14. With the round 10 grid still valid, Sims will start from second place, Loane from eighth position, Surtees from 10th and Armour from 18th spot.