Title Contender Sims Quick At Croft

Official Formula Renault UK testing at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire concluded yesterday afternoon, with Alexander Sims marking himself out as the quickest driver in two of the six sessions run over the course of the last two days.The 20-year-old racer, from Wansford near Peterborough, was the only driver to emerge fastest in more than one session, thus preparing well for the next two rounds of the season which take place at Donington Park National Circuit less than a fortnight from now on 3rd/4th May.Fastest overall on Tuesday, 22nd April, with a best lap of 1m 17.334 seconds (98.91mph) he then headed the timings again during the third of today’s four sessions with a time of 1m 18.270 seconds (97.73mph).“It’s been a very constructive test, we completed lots of laps – which is completely opposite to what we have tended to do in testing recently – and we tried a lot of different things which was good”, said Alexander.“We definitely have a much better base to work from now and I feel a lot happier than I did after Rockingham. It was good to be on the podium there but we should have been stronger. I’m confident the work we’ve done over the last two days will ensure we’re in a much better position to challenge at the front at Donington Park next weekend.”During the opening morning of the two-day test on Tuesday, the Manor Competition star posted the fifth fastest time – just 0.260 seconds shy of the top spot – with a best lap of 1m 18.084 seconds (97.97mph) in bright conditions. He then went on to find more than seven 10ths of a second during the afternoon with the day’s best, his lap of 1m 17.334 seconds. Alexander was actually six 10ths of a second clear on a lap of 1m 17.524 seconds but when rivals started to improve their times, so did the championship front-runner and he ended the day 0.105 seconds to the good.Today’s outing turned out to be more patchy with regard to the conditions, the first session taking place under cloudy skies before the heavens opened ahead of the second period. In session one, Alexander lapped with a time of 1m 17.249 seconds (99.02mph) but during the rain-affected second session he only completed seven laps after an accident at the entry to the complex. As the quickest driver on track at the time, on his eighth lap a right-rear puncture sent him into the barriers as he negotiated the fast left hander.With the Manor mechanics repairing the car quickly in time for the dry session three, Alexander bounced back in the style of a champion by posting the fastest time with a lap of 1m 18.270 seconds (97.73mph), over two 10ths of a second clear of his nearest rival. In the final session, he lapped with a best time of 1m 17.846 seconds (98.26mph).“We’ve had a very solid two days”, added Alexander, “We were very consistent and I had a good feel for the car. We had an option to run new tyres in the final session but we didn’t need to prove our pace so we just concentrated on other areas instead.

“Looking ahead to next weekend’s Donington races, we need to maximise every bit we can. After this test I feel much happier that we’ll be able to do that. We had bad luck at Brands Hatch during the first round and then at Rockingham we didn’t quite have the pace we should have. I’m confident at Donington things will be different.”Donington Park’s National Circuit was, of course, the venue for Alexander’s maiden single-seater race victory during the 11th round of the 2007 championship last July so he will clearly be aiming for a repeat performance 10 days from now.Qualifying for the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship will take place on Saturday, 3rd May, at 10.35 and 14.40 respectively. Both races are scheduled for Sunday, 4th May, with round five timetabled to kick-off the day’s action at 09.10 and round six following at 15.50. The second encounter is set to be screened live on cable, digital satellite and Freeview channel ITV4.Meanwhile the first two rounds of the season, which took place at Brands Hatch in Kent on 29th/30th March, will be featured on television next Tuesday, 29th April, on ITV4 as part of the Motorsport UK magazine show. The broadcast is scheduled to begin at 17.00.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship Driver Standings (after Rd4)1st Adam Christodoulou, 127pts; 2nd Ryuji Yamamoto, 96pts; 4th Alexander Sims, 81pts

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