Manor Competition pairing Kris Loane and Alexander Sims both made visits to the Donington Park podium on Sunday, 4th May, during the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2008 Formula Renault UK season respectively.While for Northern Irishman Loane it marked his first visit to the podium of the season, and his maiden rostrum finish in the main Formula Renault UK series, Sims’ podium was his second of the year.Team-mates Henry Surtees and Tom Armour also achieved season’s best results with the former finishing in seventh place during round six and the latter fighting his way through to 11th position for the New Ollerton team.Taking all of the weekend’s results into consideration, Sims is fourth in the championship on 120 points, Loane has climbed to fifth place on 111 points, Surtees is tied in 12th position, with the more experienced Sho Hanawa, on 58 points and Armour has also moved up the order into 17th position with 32 points.Lining up on the front row of the grid for round five, Sims made a good start and as he rounded the outside of pole-sitter Adriano Buzaid at Redgate Corner, contact resulted in the Manor star dropping a wheel off the circuit and into a spin.Dropping down to about 12th position, the 20-year-old battled back hard and although bitterly disappointed to see a potential race win go begging, he came home in ninth for what could be valuable points when all is said and done at the end of the season.Loane, meanwhile, made great progress from seventh on the grid and after moving into the top five and then the top four, his moment of the race came on lap 11 when he produced a superb overtaking move on championship leader Adam Christodoulou.Pressuring Christodoulou for several laps, it paid off on the 11th tour when he slid slightly wide on the exit of McLeans allowing Loane to get inside on the run to Coppice. He then sealed the move to take third place with a fantastic piece of driving into Goddards.Armour raced to a 14th place result to equal his previous best from Rockingham while for Surtees, the outing turned into a nightmare after being given a drive-through penalty when deemed to have jumped the start. He eventually finished a lap down in 17th place.“From seventh on the grid I really didn’t expect to be on the podium so I’m really pleased”, said Loane after the race, “Things worked out for me, our pace was good and I was definitely quicker than Adam (Christodoulou). I’m very happy to be on the podium, it’s great for me and the team.”Surtees and Armour achieve best FRUK finishes Round six saw Loane, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday, start on row two in fourth place with Sims in sixth, Surtees in 12th and Armour in 18th. At the start, Loane got away from the grid well to move into third place at Redgate and while Sims was hung out to dry a little on the outside, he made it through unscathed.
Challenging fourth placed Ryuji Yamamoto at the Old Hairpin and McLeans, Sims was determined to take the place and make amends for the earlier race. Looking ultra-quick, he made a pass up the inside at Coppice to take fourth and then set after his Manor team-mate Loane.With both drivers racing well, Sims managed to find a way through on lap two and then began to pull out a gap over the 20-year-old from Co. Fermanagh. Reeling off fastest lap after fastest lap, six on the trot to be precise, Sims closed on second placed Buzaid but in the end he couldn’t quite get fully on terms with his tyres having given their best.Nonetheless, third place from sixth on the grid was a terrific result and he also received two bonus points for setting the fastest lap, 1m 06.680 seconds (105.67mph). Loane finished a highly creditable fourth to claim another good sharing of points.“I’m pleased to be on the podium but we had hoped for more this weekend”, commented Sims, “Donington has always been very good to me and after testing we were very strong. We should have had at least two podiums and, preferably, a win but I’m aiming to make that happen during the next two rounds of the season.”Surtees made good ground early on and certainly put the thoughts of his start-line indiscretion from round five firmly behind him. By lap three he was into the top eight and he snatched one more position just before the finish when Jordan Oakes hit problems.Armour lapped impressively and clearly made big strides during the weekend. In race conditions in round six he thrived, running in the top 14 before middle distance with some good overtaking, he progressed into the top 11 before the chequered flag.Manor Competition team boss Tony Shaw said: “Two podiums isn’t a bad return at all, and Henry and Tom both achieved their best results of the season which was good to see. We’re confident we had the pace to achieve more this weekend, it’s a shame we didn’t, but we know more podiums and wins are there for the taking.“It was a good birthday present for Kris to finish on the podium, he raced very well and we’re absolutely delighted he’s finally been able to finish in the top three during the main championship season.”Manor Competition returns to action a fortnight from now, 17th/18th May, at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire for the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship.