Manor strong in 2-day test at Croft

Formula Renault UK squad Manor Competition produced a terrific team performance at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire over the course of the last two days; all four drivers lapping with impressive pace throughout the latest official championship test outing.During the first morning of the test on Tuesday, 22nd April, Northern Ireland’s Kris Loane led the Manor charge with the second fastest time of 1m 17.912 seconds (98.18mph), just 0.088 seconds shy of the top of the times.Team-mate Alexander Sims then came to the fore in the afternoon with a time of 1m 17.334 seconds (98.91mph) – the quickest lap of the day – while Loane continued his consistency with the fourth fastest time of the session, 1m 17.635 seconds (98.53mph).Category rookie Henry Surtees ended the afternoon inside the top nine with a lap of 1m 18.177 seconds (97.85mph), the third quickest of the Graduate Cup runners. Meanwhile team newcomer Tom Armour – who made his Manor debut during the Rockingham race meeting just under a fortnight ago – was 17th in the session having lapped in 1m 18.575 seconds (97.35mph).Day two, Wednesday, 23rd April, saw Loane produce the fastest time of any Manor driver over the course of the Croft test with an excellent lap of 1m 16.881 seconds (99.50mph) during the first session to go second fastest, just a 10th of a second away from the top.Rainfall ahead of session two resulted in a very wet track and ended with Surtees as the quickest Manor driver with a time of 1m 28.165 seconds (86.76mph). Loane lapped three 10ths of a second shy of his team-mate while problems befell Sims who had an accident on his eighth lap.At the mid-point of the session, Sims, Surtees and Loane were all in the top three and looking strong but Sims’ involvement ended when a puncture, as he approached the entry to the complex, sent his car into the tyre barriers. The Manor mechanics did a sterling job to repair Sims’ car in time for the dry third session and the 20-year-old responded well by posting the fastest time, 1m 18.270 seconds (97.73mph).Loane was again strong inside the top three on a lap of 1m 18.628 seconds (97.29mph) with Surtees having his best showing of the test in an excellent fifth place with a time of 1m 18.917 seconds (96.93mph) – he was also the fastest Graduate Cup driver. Armour also made impressive strides to conclude the run inside the top 10, his lap of 1m 19.761 seconds (95.90mph) good enough for ninth.The final outing of the two-day test saw Surtees head the way for Manor in sixth position on a time of 1m 17.657 seconds (98.50mph) while Loane was just nine 1,000ths of a second further back. Sims lapped another two 10ths of a second shy in ninth place with Armour ending the session in 17th position.Speaking on the two-day test run, Manor Competition owner Tony Shaw said: “It’s been a good couple of days, all four of our guys did a brilliant job and we’re very pleased with the work we managed to complete. We concentrated on a lot of different areas and our efforts paid off with some very good times so we’re pretty happy.

“Kris was very consistent during both days and did a great job, in four of the six sessions he was inside the top four and looked very impressive. Alexander was quick too, fastest overall on day one and then heading the times during session three yesterday – he was actually the only driver out there to top more than one session.”Shaw added: “Henry and Tom both continued to improve well, yesterday afternoon being particularly good for Henry with him in the top six during both sessions. He was strong in the wet conditions on Wednesday morning too. Tom made some good improvements at Croft, he’s making good progress and has gelled fantastically well with the team.”Manor Competition’s next outing will come a week today, Thursday, 1st May, at the squad’s ‘home’ venue of Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire for the official pre-event test ahead of the fifth and sixth rounds of the Formula Renault UK season.Qualifying will be held on Saturday, 3rd May, with the first session scheduled to begin at 10.35 and the second session getting underway at 14.40.Racing will commence on Sunday, 4th May, with round five beginning the day’s action at 09.10 and round six – which is fully expected to be screened live on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4 – following at approximately 15.50.Before then, the season-opening races from Brands Hatch in Kent will be screened on ITV4, as part of the Motorsport UK programme, next Tuesday, 29th April, at 17.00.