Manor Competition Croft Preview

New Ollerton Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition heads to Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire next weekend, 31st May/1st June, with one aim in mind – to secure its first double-podium finish of the 2008 championship.The redoubtable single-seater squad, which runs exciting quartet Alexander Sims, Kris Loane, Henry Surtees and Tom Armour, hasn’t had the most consistent of seasons to date but hopes within the Manor camp are high next weekend’s ninth and 10th rounds of the year will trigger a much more fruitful second half of the 2008 campaign.Although there have been a few set-backs, with lost opportunities for Sims and Loane in particular during the first four race meetings of the season, the team has enjoyed at least one rostrum result at each of the least three events to keep it within reach of the lead championship battle.Currently fourth in the driver standings, 20-year-old Sims does have good form at Croft having claimed his maiden Formula Renault UK podium there in November 2006 during only his third ever car race. In addition, he was also fastest during the first of two days of testing at Croft in April and looks a strong bet for glory in rounds nine and 10.Likewise, Loane has also produced excellent form at Croft and during the official test in April he actually set the fastest lap of all four Manor drivers with a time of 1m 16.881 seconds (99.50mph) – just a 10th of a second shy of the quickest of all. Sixth in the driver standings, the 20-year-old has what it takes to challenge for his second 2008 podium.For Surtees, a career best Formula Renault UK qualifying result of fifth came at Donington Park and although he hasn’t quite achieved the race results he has wanted so far, his ever improving pace should see a strong effort at Croft. Especially so bearing in mind the team’s lead Graduate Cup runner was solidly inside the top 10 during testing.The least experienced of the quartet, 18-year-old single-seater rookie Armour, is continuing to adapt to the demands of competing in one of the world’s most competitive one-make single-seater championships. Improving with every qualifying and race outing, Armour should take yet more strides forward in North Yorkshire a week from now.“Croft is going to be a very important race meeting for us, it’s true we haven’t quite managed to string together the results we’ve wanted so far but we’re all working incredibly hard to turn that around”, said Manor boss Tony Shaw, “I’m confident we stand a good chance of some great results next weekend, we’ll certainly be giving it our all.”With two race meetings in quick succession coming up – the Croft event followed seven days later by the 11th and 12th rounds of the championship at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit – the next four races are likely to have a major bearing on the season as a whole.Following free practice at Croft on Friday, 30th May, qualifying for the ninth and 10th rounds of the 2008 Formula Renault UK season will take place at 14.15 and 17.40 respectively on Saturday, 31st May.Both races will follow on Sunday, 1st June, with round nine scheduled to get underway at 13.15 and round 10 set to commence at 17.55 – the first of the two encounters is expected to be screened live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship Driver Standings (after Rd8)4th Alexander Sims, 161pts; 6th Kris Loane, 122pts; 12th Henry Surtees, 77pts; 18th Tom Armour, 42pts