Manor Silverstone National Preview

With just four races left in the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship season, next weekend’s penultimate rounds of the campaign at Silverstone National Circuit will prove absolutely crucial for New Ollerton team Manor Competition.Heading into rounds 17 and 18 of the championship, the Nottinghamshire based squad is currently second overall in the driver standings with 20-year-old MSA British Race Elite star Alexander Sims. Although series leader Adam Christodoulou is currently 55 points clear in the title chase when taking the category’s double ‘drop-score’ ruling into account, a tough weekend for him at Silverstone could offer Sims the opportunity to head into the season finale at Brands Hatch in September with his championship ambitions still alive.While Sims has enjoyed seven podium visits from the last nine races – including a victory last month at Snetterton – Northern Irishman Kris Loane has suffered some terrible misfortune of late which has hampered his progress in the championship battle and undermined his undoubted pace and ability.Securing seven top six finishes so far this year, including one podium, the 20-year-old has certainly deserved much more from his second season in Formula Renault UK and will therefore be trying as hard as ever to finish on the rostrum in both Silverstone races.Manor’s youngest drivers, Henry Surtees and Tom Armour, have each enjoyed some relative success in recent events with 17-year-old Surtees shining at Oulton Park during the previous two rounds with a brace of well deserved top seven results.The son of John Surtees OBE, former Formula One and World Motorcycling Champion, has shown increased confidence, pace and racecraft during the second half of the year and is getting ever closer to that elusive debut Formula Renault UK podium.Armour, who only graduated to single-seaters from karting at the beginning of the current season, has been on a steep learning curve but has coped admirably throughout the campaign and has produced some strong race performances. Should he qualify a little stronger at Silverstone National, the 19-year-old will be hoping for a season’s best result.“We’re really looking forward to Silverstone”, said Manor Competition co-owner Sarah Shaw, “Earlier in the year on the full Grand Prix track we had good pace so hopefully we’ll be able to qualify and race strongly. “Alexander has been very consistent and he needs to continue that to ensure he can go into the last two rounds at Brands Hatch with a chance of still becoming champion. Kris has had some terrible luck, he deserves a trouble free weekend for a change. There’s no question he has the pace to be on the podium at Silverstone.”Sarah added: “Henry’s performance at Oulton Park was very good, he really seems to be coming into his own now. Tom continues to make progress too and he has been racing more competitively of late. The whole team is looking forward to being back racing again after a long break, hopefully we’ll have some very good results.”Following pre-event testing on Friday, 29th August, at Silverstone National Circuit, qualifying for rounds 17 and 18 of the Formula Renault UK season will take place at 09.30 and 14.30 respectively on Saturday, 30th August.Both races will be held on Sunday, 31st August, with round 17 set to commence at 09.30 and round 18 expected to follow at around 15.15. Live coverage of the second encounter is scheduled to be screened on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship Driver Standings (after Rd16 inc. drop scores):2nd Alexander Sims, 340pts; 7th Kris Loane, 227pts; 13th Henry Surtees, 149pts; 16th Tom Armour, 86pts