IN TITLE PICTURECambridgeshire race ace Alexander Sims ensured the fight for the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship title will go down to the wire during next month’s season finale after claiming a truly memorable win during the 17th round of the campaign at Silverstone National Circuit Sunday, 31st August.Backed up by a storming recovery drive in this afternoon’s 18th round – which saw Alexander fight back tremendously from last place to fourth position at the chequered flag – the Wansford based racer is now within striking distance of championship leader Adam Christodoulou heading into the final two races of the season.Alexander’s second victory of the year, which also saw him take two bonus points for the fastest lap of the race, was a mature yet determined drive which completely underlined the Manor Competition driver’s growing stature as one of Britain’s most exciting young single-seater prospects.Speaking after the first race, the 20-year-old said: “I’m absolutely delighted to win, it was a fantastic race and my start was particularly good. We made one minute change to the car between qualifying on Saturday and the race, which I felt quite strongly about due to the change in conditions, and it paid off.“It was nice to dominate with a really strong win and that’s obviously been a major boost ahead of the last two races at Brands Hatch in three weeks. The whole team, from the mechanics to the truckies, Tony (Shaw – Manor Competition team boss) and his wife Sarah, they’ve all been fantastic. It’s a great result for all of us.”Lining up sixth on the grid for round 17, Alexander immediately made inroads on the cars ahead with an awe-inspiring first lap. On the run to Copse for the first time he passed three cars and then set about challenging second placed Adam Christodoulou.Heading into Brooklands on lap one, Alexander thought about taking second away from the series leader and as they rounded Luffield side-by-side, it did look as though the Manor driver would have to tuck back into third.Bravely, Alexander held his nerve and on the outside line he continued to run wheel-to-wheel with his title rival all the way to Copse at the start of lap two. Forced to give best to Christodoulou through the first turn, Alexander soon mounted another challenge and into Brooklands he managed to take second position.The Safety Car was deployed on lap four to aid the recovery of a stranded car and at the re-start on the eighth tour, Alexander pushed to pressurise race leader, and pole-sitter Adriano Buzaid. It was then announced, however, Buzaid was to receive a drive-through penalty as he had lined up too far forward in his grid slot at the start of the race.Buzaid entered the pits at the end of lap 10 meaning Sims instantly inherited the lead which he held all the way to the chequered flag – taking the win some three seconds clear of Christodoulou. Alexander also posted the fastest lap, 54.980 seconds (107.31mph) to gain two extra points and become the only driver in the race to lap under the 55 second barrier.
Superb fight-back provides welcome top fourFor round 18, which took place on a wet track in very tricky conditions, the MSA British Race Elite sensation lined up fourth on the grid – missing pole position by just 0.055 seconds during qualifying on Saturday – and again made a terrific start.Moving to the inside of third placed Buzaid on the run to Copse, drama followed as Alexander had a spin following contact on entry to the corner. Firing his car back up and rejoining the race in 18th, and last, position, he set about hunting down the cars ahead.At the same corner on lap one, championship rival Christodoulou crashed out of the race while duelling with Jordan Oakes over the lead and so it was of paramount importance for Alexander to try and score as many points as possible.Far from a simple task, the multiple karting champion produced an excellent drive to fight his way through to fourth place at the finish and 22 richly deserved championship points to add to the 34 he scored in round 17.After the race, Alexander said: “Luckily we came through to fourth in the end, it was a shame about the spin at the first corner which didn’t make scoring big points easy but it didn’t work out too badly. To take a win, fastest lap and fourth place too from this weekend has been very good for the championship. I’m very pleased.”In the championship battle, Alexander is a mere 10 points behind Christodoulou now on overall scores. However, when Formula Renault UK’s double ‘drop-score’ ruling is taken into consideration, the Manor star is 34 points adrift by virtue of his greater consistency this year having scored in all 18 of the races contested so far.With everything to play for, there are now just three weeks to wait until the championship deciding Formula Renault UK season finale – rounds 19 and 20 – at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Kent, over the weekend 20th/21st September.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship Driver Standings (after Rd18 inc. drop scores):1st Adam Christodoulou, 430pts; 2nd Alexander Sims, 396pts; 3rd Adriano Buzaid, 362pts