SUPERB SILVERSTONE TEST RUN DELIGHTS MANOR New Ollerton based Formula Renault UK entrant Manor Competition concluded its 2008 pre-season preparations in stunning style at Silverstone in Northamptonshire yesterday afternoon -- Kris Loane,...
SUPERB SILVERSTONE TEST RUN DELIGHTS MANOR
New Ollerton based Formula Renault UK entrant Manor Competition concluded its 2008 pre-season preparations in stunning style at Silverstone in Northamptonshire yesterday afternoon -- Kris Loane, Alexander Sims and Henry Surtees all producing impressive individual performances throughout the course of the last two days.
During day one of the test on Tuesday, 18th March, Sims dominated with not only the fastest time on the 1.64-mile National Circuit, but also the quickest lap on the full Grand Prix configuration.
Producing a best time of 54.397 seconds (108.56mph) during the second of two sessions on the National Circuit on Tuesday, the 20-year-old Wansford based driver lapped a full two 10ths of a second quicker than anybody on the 3.2-mile GP track during the early evening with a time of 1m 46.065 seconds (108.40mph).
Loane, meanwhile, led the team's charge during the second day on Wednesday, 19th March, and actually posted the quickest time by a Manor driver over the course of the full test with a superb 54.210 second (108.84mph) lap. The 19-year-old, from Kesh in Northern Ireland, continues to prove he and Sims will be very evenly matched in 2008.
Returning to day one, while Sims had the upper hand both Loane and Surtees were equally as strong as each other on the National layout with just seven 100ths of a second splitting the two in fifth and sixth positions respectively. Loane's best lap was 54.534 seconds (108.29mph) while Surtees' was 54.605 seconds (108.14mph).
The drivers then had two hours of test time on the GP configuration with Sims again at the top of the times. Surtees, who hails from Lingfield in Surrey, produced his best run of the pre-season with the fourth fastest time, a lap of 1m 46.707 seconds (107.75mph).
Unfortunately for Loane, he was unable to join his Manor team-mates in the top few placings after an off at Copse Corner which damaged the floor on his car. He ended up with the 11th quickest time but would certainly bounce back very strongly on day two.
Reverting to the National Circuit layout on Thursday, Loane emerged as the fastest driver during the afternoon and was only pipped to the top spot by 0.074 seconds very late in the session after he had already decided to return to the garage and call time on his involvement in the test.
Producing his best lap of 54.210 seconds midway through the session, Loane showed Manor can realistically hope to challenge for race wins and podium results in 2008 with both of its second-year drivers.
Graduate Cup runner Surtees posted the eighth fastest lap during the morning session with a time of 54.827 seconds (107.61mph) before opting to sit out the afternoon in order to save tyres.
Similarly, day one pace-setter Sims only ventured out onto track for one full lap in order to bed-in a set of wet weather tyres. He then sat-out the remainder of the day to save rubber like his 17-year-old team-mate. New rulings for this season mean tyres are more restricted in 2008, minimising mileage now could prove to be crucial later in the year.
Reflecting on the Silverstone test, Manor Competition team owner Tony Shaw said: "The last two days have gone very well. We're all really happy, it's been a fantastic test for the team overall and I think the work we've done at Silverstone will stand us in good stead for the first two races at Brands Hatch next weekend.
"Alexander was again in stunning form, to be quickest on both circuit layouts was very pleasing indeed. His confidence is rightly very high, he's doing a stonking job at the moment and not only is he fast but he's very consistent with it which is great to see.
"Henry has driven much better here than he has during the last couple of tests. We're delighted he's showing the form he did at Rockingham a few weeks ago. If he can take the performance he's shown at Silverstone to Brands Hatch he can do very well."
Shaw added: "Kris did an amazing job, he produced blindingly quick times on very old tyres and when Sarah (Shaw -- Manor co-owner and race engineer) put some new tyres on his car during the final session on Wednesday he went to the top of the times. After we decided to call it a day around three o'clock, the track did seem to get a bit faster.
"Kris ended up being edged into second place by just seven 100ths of a second but that's no problem. He's done a cracking job and he's certainly looking to be a very quick and consistent contender. We're delighted with the progress the entire team is making."
Manor Competition has now returned to its Nottinghamshire premises to prepare for the first race meeting of the 2008 Formula Renault UK season which takes place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent on 29th/30th March.
Round one qualifying is timetabled to begin at 09.25 on Saturday, 29th March, with the round two session expected to follow at 14.40. On Sunday, 30th March, round one is scheduled to get underway at 10.00 with round two following at 15.40. Although unconfirmed at this stage, the second of the two races may be screened live on ITV4.