SIMS TAKES MAIDEN FORMULA RENAULT PODIUM AT CROFT Manor Motorsport's Alexander Sims produced a superb performance during round three of the Formula Renault UK Winter Championship at Croft yesterday, theq8-year-old sensation achieving a maiden ...
SIMS TAKES MAIDEN FORMULA RENAULT PODIUM AT CROFT
Manor Motorsport's Alexander Sims produced a superb performance during round three of the Formula Renault UK Winter Championship at Croft yesterday, theq8-year-old sensation achieving a maiden category podium in only his third ever car race.
After announcing his arrival on the single-seater racing scene in style at Brands Hatch last weekend taking a top-four result in only his second competitive outing in a Formula Renault UK car, the former karting superstar finished second in the first of Saturday'stwo races at North Yorkshire's Croft Circuit and also set the fastest lap in the process.
The Peterborough teenager, who is backed by Ocean Spray, J.O Sims and Clink Street Properties, started the day well with an excellent performance during a tricky 20-minute qualifying session which took place in damp and drying conditions.
Alexander's best lap of 1m 24.868 seconds (90.22mph) saw him achieve his maiden front-row grid start in the championship, a mere three 100ths of a second shy of pole position, while his second fastest time of 1m 25.691 seconds placed the Manor ace fourth on the grid for the final race of the winter series.
Round three of the four-race championship started on an almost completely dry track, earlier rain having cleared, and as the race got underway Alexander made a good start to hold onto second position through Clervaux for the first time, just behind pole-sitter Martin Ragginger.
As the field headed into the second half of the lap though, the Austrian driver made a mistake and spun off the circuit meaning Alexander swiftly moved into the lead to head a car race for the first time since graduating from the ranks of karting -- and all after just 24 laps of competitive race action in Formula Renault UK.
Increasing his lead over Manor team-mate, and eventual Winter Champion, Franck Mailleux to six 10ths of a second by the end of lap two, Alexander looked comfortable but a mistake out of the complex on the run to the hairpin at the end of lap three presented the Frenchman with an opportunity to move ahead.
Obviously disappointed, the Peterborough sensation certainly didn't allow his vastly more experienced team-mate to disappear into the distance and on lap eight Alexander claimed two bonus points for setting the fastest race lap with a time of 1m 18.332 seconds (97.75mph).
On lap 15, the Manor pair took the chequer just 1.3 seconds apart with Alexander's points haul enabling him to move into a richly deserved fourth overall in the winter series standings ahead of the final round of the championship.
Speaking at the conclusion of his most successful race to date in Formula Renault UK, the Cambridgeshire driver said: "I'm very pleased with the result but it's just the way we got the result which is a little bit disappointing. We did have the opportunity to win the race but I made a few mistakes unfortunately.
"In the middle part of the race everything felt very good but the first three laps and the last two weren't good enough really. All in all though, to finish second is a good solid result. We're learning more and more with every lap in the car so I'm quite happy with what we've achieved."
Heavy rainfall ahead of the second of the day's encounters meant round four would present Alexander with his first Formula Renault UK race mileage on a wet track and at the start he didn't make the best of getaways unfortunately, slipping from fourth on the grid to seventh position.
He quickly began to make amends though and before the end of the opening lap, the Manor star had regained two places to move into the top five. But at the entry to Tower Bend on the second lap Alexander suffered a spin which resulted in him sliding off the track and into a bitterly disappointing retirement.
Another podium finish had certainly looked a possibility for the teenager and although unhappy with the way his winter series campaign came to a conclusion, Alexander once again shone this weekend as a genuine single-seater racing star and a future champion in the making.
Ending the 2006 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship ninth overall in the driver standings, Alexander's placing is particularly impressive when considering he only completed half the races he contested.