Manor Competition’s Alexander Sims reignited his bid for the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship title at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk over the weekend, 12th/13th July – an outstanding performance seeing the 20-year-old take his first win of the campaign on Saturday and his seventh podium of the season on Sunday.Driving faultlessly during all three of the weekend’s races, the first time in the history of the championship a triple-header has taken place, Alexander leapt from fourth in the driver standings to the runner-up spot on overall scores and is determined to continue his winning momentum with just six races remaining.On a weekend when consistency would most certainly count, the Wansford star didn’t disappoint in race trim and along with a win and third position, he also achieved a further top six finish in the second of the three encounters.“I’m obviously very pleased to have taken our first win of the year – hopefully more will follow now during the last six rounds”, said Alexander, “We didn’t plan on the first win taking this long but the team has worked very hard all year, both at the track and back at the workshop. Big thanks go to everyone at Manor.”Saturday’s encounter was the rescheduled 10th round of the season which had been postponed from the race meeting at Croft in North Yorkshire at the beginning of June due to terrible weather conditions. With the round 10 qualifying times still relevant, Alexander would begin the race from second on the grid.Making a perfect start, the MSA British Race Elite sensation pulled alongside pole-sitter Riki Christodoulou on the run to Riches Corner and moved into the lead before the first turn, streaking away from his pursuers through the first half of the lap.An accident further behind involving Adam Christodoulou and Adriano Buzaid resulted in the Safety Car being deployed though so Alexander’s healthy advantage was negated. When racing resumed on lap four, the Manor driver again got away superbly well and from that point on he was never headed.Second placed Dean Stoneman did place Alexander under intense pressure but he held firm and didn’t put a wheel wrong as he took his first win since his Donington Park success almost exactly a year ago.Alexander commented: “It was a slightly strange sensation really as it’s the first car race I’ve led from start to finish over a full distance. It was pretty straightforward, I made a fantastic start and from there I just had to control things without making any mistakes. I capitalised on the start well which is something we’ve been doing lately.”Seventh podium of season lifts Sims to second in championshipQualifying for rounds 13 and 14 didn’t quite go according to plan with Alexander losing out in straight-line speed terms and only managing to qualify seventh fastest for round 13 and fifth on the grid for round 14. Once again though, the Cambridgeshire star shone in race conditions.
At the beginning of the 13th round, Alexander made another excellent start and after dispatching Scott Jenkins off the line he then went around the outside of championship leader Adam Christodoulou at Riches to seize fifth place with a great move.Challenging fourth placed Buzaid hard for several laps, Alexander then started to come under pressure from Adam Christodoulou who clearly had the benefit of a quicker car in a straight-line. Skilfully maintaining his position into the braking zones, Alexander was finally forced to succumb on the penultimate lap at the Esses and slipped to sixth place.The last of the weekend’s three races, round 14, saw Alexander make his second podium visit of the weekend with a terrific drive from the third row of the grid to a richly deserved third place finish.Following a terrible getaway by Riki Christodoulou from row two, Alexander threaded his way through into the top four and after chasing Buzaid hard on the run down Revett Straight he then produced an excellent pass into the Esses to take third.Producing fastest lap pace as he set after second placed James Calado, the Manor star couldn’t quite create the opportunity he needed to sneak past his rival but third position was a terrific result. In the end, he took the chequered flag on lap 18 just three 10ths of a second shy of Calado and a mere 1.7 seconds adrift of winner Stoneman.“After qualifying I didn’t expect two podiums from the weekend”, commented Alexander, “To win the first race was fantastic and to finish on the podium again was great. There was a big difference in engine speed down the straights and we were on the lower end of that so suffered as I couldn’t get into the tow properly. Nonetheless, we scored well.“We made good starts to each race and kept our nose clean as others faltered around us. I think we’ve come out of this weekend very well. Coming in to Snetterton I had very high expectations but during the weekend the expectations changed as our qualifying pace wasn’t what we wanted. The end result was good though and quite satisfying.”Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire is next on the Formula Renault UK calendar just two weeks from now with rounds 15 and 16 taking place over the weekend 26th/27th July.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship Driver Standings (after Rd14):1st Adam Christodoulou, 338pts; 2nd Alexander Sims, 309pts; 3rd Riki Christodoulou, 308pts