WITH SIMS VICTORYMultiple Formula Renault UK champion entrant Manor Competition made a welcome and richly deserved return to winning ways at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk yesterday afternoon, Saturday, 12th July, with Alexander Sims securing a memorable and hard fought first race victory of 2008.The MSA British Race Elite star, who started the race second on the grid, made a perfect getaway and took the lead from pole-sitter Riki Christodoulou on the run to Riches Corner for the first time. From that point on, 20-year-old Sims was never headed and although he came under intense pressure from Dean Stoneman throughout – and also had to cope with an early Safety Car period – the Manor ace raced beautifully to achieve his, and the New Ollerton team’s, first win since their Donington Park success together last year.Commenting on the victory, ecstatic team owner Tony Shaw said: “It’s an incredible feeling to be back on the top step of the podium again, we’ve all been working so hard to make it happen. Alexander deserves a lot of credit. He made a stunning start and didn’t put a wheel wrong. (Dean) Stoneman put him under a lot of pressure but he coped brilliantly.”Today’s race was actually the rescheduled 10th round of the Formula Renault UK season which should have originally taken place at Croft in North Yorkshire at the start of June but was postponed due to terrible weather conditions.While Sims enjoyed a tremendously successful outing, for team-mate Kris Loane the race was less fruitful when a damaged front wing – sustained when avoiding a start-line collision between Adam Christodoulou and Adriano Buzaid – robbed him of a certain top four finish and potential podium.The Northern Irishman, who started eighth on the grid, had a superb opening lap and moved into the top five by the time the cars headed down the Revett Straight for the first time. Team-mate Henry Surtees also made up ground and climbed into eighth place while Manor’s fourth driver, Tom Armour, moved from 17th on the grid into the top 15.Due to the start-line accident involving Buzaid and Adam Christodoulou, the Safety Car was deployed in time for the start of lap two, negating Sims’ advantage at the front and closing the rest of the field up.At the re-start on lap four, Sims made a good getaway while Loane held on to fifth even though his car was losing downforce, and therefore performance, due to his damaged front wing. In actual fact, Loane started to catch fourth placed Jordan Oakes while Surtees, in turn, moved into the top seven.After Oakes pitted at the end of lap eight to serve a drive-through penalty for a jump-start, Loane moved up to fourth, Surtees was seventh and Armour moved into 13th spot. Loane’s target now was Riki Christodoulou and, considering his front wing problems, the Manor racer’s pace was highly impressive. Just a couple of laps from the finish, the damage to the 20-year-old’s wing worsened as it became dislodged and fully broke away from the car, seriously slowing him down.
Bitterly disappointing for Loane, he eventually crossed the line in 12th position just under a second ahead of Armour. However, with Loane’s misfortune came better news for Surtees as it meant he climbed into the top six for a career best category finish following a highly competitive run.Shaw added: “We’re all absolutely gutted for Kris as he raced so well with the damage to his front wing. If it had held on for just a couple more laps he would have had a fourth place without question. Henry’s first top six is a great result and Tom did a very good job too – all in all it was a good race for us.“Tomorrow’s two races will be tougher as qualifying didn’t quite go as planned but if the guys race as well as they did today, we could end up with some surprise results. As ever, we’ll be doing our very best.” The 13th and 14th rounds of the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship will take place at Snetterton today, Sunday, 13th July, at 09.40 and 15.35 respectively.During this morning’s round 13 qualifying session, Sims posted the seventh fastest time, Loane was ninth quickest, Surtees set the 14th best time and Armour was 17th. In the round 14 session, Sims and Loane improved to fifth and seventh on the grid, Surtees was 16th fastest and Armour set the 18th best time.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship Driver Standings:
3rd Alexander Sims, 266pts; 7th Kris Loane, 174pts; 12th Henry Surtees, 96pts; 18th Tom Armour, 73pts