UNEXPECTED PODIUM LIFTS MANOR AT DIFFICULT THRUXTON Manor Competition came off the back of its most difficult race meeting of the season at Thruxton in Hampshire over the weekend, 17th/18th May, still with something to celebrate after an ...
UNEXPECTED PODIUM LIFTS MANOR AT DIFFICULT THRUXTON
Manor Competition came off the back of its most difficult race meeting of the season at Thruxton in Hampshire over the weekend, 17th/18th May, still with something to celebrate after an outstanding effort by Alexander Sims during round eight.
Although the weekend was largely a disappointing one for the New Ollerton team, there were some highlight performances -- Sims' incredible rise from 13th on the grid to the podium in round eight and Henry Surtees' top six qualifying effort during session two.
Qualifying saw Kris Loane emerge as Manor's fastest driver during the round seven session, his best lap a time of 1m 10.868 seconds (119.68mph) to place him eighth on the grid, one spot ahead of Sims who was a 10th of a second slower. Surtees qualified with the 16th fastest time, a shade quicker than team-mate Tom Armour in 17th place.
The round eight session saw Surtees leap to the fore, a lap of 1m 10.725 seconds (119.92mph) good enough for an excellent sixth on the grid while Loane set the 10th fastest time, Sims the 13th quickest lap and Armour qualified in 18th position.
In race trim, Sims led the Manor charge in both outings in the end with a battling seventh position in the first encounter and a superb climb through the order from the seventh row of the grid to a rostrum placing in race two.
He did rise as high as second at one stage but had to settle for a, nonetheless very welcome and richly deserved, third place result -- his third podium in as many race meetings and a truly superb effort.
Having made an excellent start to round seven, Loane found himself blocked in the centre of the track as he tried to make headway on the run through Allard and was boxed out to 10th position -- contact from other cars breaking his front wing which slowed him in a straight line and made the race very difficult.
The Northern Irishman did battle hard and apply pressure as best he could but the handling problems meant 10th would be the best he could muster.
Surtees climbed to 12th on the final lap after a decent drive while Armour had plenty of work to do on lap one following an enforced spin. After managing to claw back time and get on terms with the tail of the field, he did well to make his way into the top 17.
The second of the weekend's races at the country's quickest circuit was notable for Sims' sparkling drive through the order. By lap two, Loane had moved up into ninth position with Sims 11th but Surtees unfortunately couldn't make the most of his stellar qualifying effort and slipped down the order to 12th.
Lap three saw huge disappointment for Loane when he was forced to retire at the complex as he tried to make up further ground. Looking to move into an undefended gap alongside Oli Webb, he went for the pass as his rival then made a late decision to cover the line. The result was contact which sent Loane into the path of Dean Stoneman.
Sims took over from that point on as the highest placed Manor driver and on lap four he had already climbed into the top five. But following a Ryuji Yamamoto crash and the serving of a drive-through penalty for race leader Adam Christodoulou, Sims found himself in third.
The Safety Car came onto circuit while Yamamoto's stricken car was removed and as the race got back underway, Sims immediately made up further ground by passing Joshua Scott for second place at the complex. Surtees, meanwhile, was up to seventh place while Armour was inside the top 14.
Although Sims did lose out to Scott at Segrave on lap 15, third position was a terrific result. Having worked hard to climb back into the top seven, a small problem for Surtees saw him lose momentum and slip down the order on the final lap. He took the chequered flag in 11th place, just four spots ahead of Armour in 15th position.
Reflecting on the Thruxton weekend, Manor team owner Tony Shaw said: "It's certainly been one of our most disappointing outings this year but Alexander's podium and Henry's pace in the second qualifying session were good highlights.
"We're really gutted for Kris as there was nothing he could in the second race when he got taken out at the complex. He went for a gap that was certainly there and then the door was closed, he had nowhere to go. Tom had a couple of decent runs and is getting to grips more and more with the formula.
"We're going to work incredibly hard to find out where we went wrong and what we can do to ensure we improve for the next event at Croft in two weeks. Hopefully there we'll be able to get our championship challenge back on track."
Rounds nine and 10 of the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship will take place over the weekend 31st May/1st June at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire.