Macau Fightback Marks Sims
AS CLASS OF THE BMW FIELDMcLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist Alexander Sims marked himself out as the class of the field on his Pacific Formula BMW race debut at the Guia Street Circuit in Macau, Sunday, 16th November, as part of the 55th staging of the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix event.Needing all his concentration, determination and resolve on his first ever appearance at the demanding Macau circuit, the Ocean Spray sponsored driver fought back superbly into an eighth place finish after a lap one incident caused by one of his Meritus team-mates, all after Alexander had qualified third fastest on Saturday afternoon.Rejoining the encounter last from more than 20 competitors, the 20-year-old from Wansford near Peterborough was in stunning form and was by far the quickest driver on track as he scythed his way through the order to overtake an average of two cars per lap!After just seven laps, Alexander was into seventh place and absolutely flying as he became the only driver to lap under the 2 minute 30 second mark, and by some margin too, with a time of 2m29.746 seconds (91.42mph) – a full four 10ths of a second quicker than anyone.As a measure of his undoubted race winning capabilities, Alexander set quickest sectors and fastest laps and was on course to climb into the top four before the finish had the encounter run to its planned duration of 10 laps. However, he was classified eighth as the result was declared following just six laps due an accident which caused red flags.“At the first true right hander, under braking, my team-mate shot down the inside but totally outbraked himself and went straight into the wall”, explained Alexander, “ As I was on the outside, I had nowhere to go and had to turn around and rejoin in last place after everyone else had gone through. That definitely cost us the chance of fighting for the win.“We were very quick so it’s such a shame that happened as I’m confident the win was a real possibility, certainly a podium was there for the taking. Even with the first lap incident, had the race run its full distance we’d have probably ended up fourth.”Although rightly disappointed with the lap one incident which totally ruined his chances of a very likely race win on his Macau debut, Alexander’s reason for taking part in the Pacific Formula BMW encounter was to gain vital experience for a potential return to Macau in 2009 as part of the headline Formula 3 Grand Prix.“I’m very disappointed with how the race started but you have to take the positives from everything and to lap so much quicker than everyone else and to gain two places a lap was great and very enjoyable”, said Alexander, “The main point of taking part in the BMW race this weekend was to gain experience of Macau and so we achieved that aim.“Macau is fantastic. You always have to race with maximum concentration but Macau takes you to another level, it’s an amazing place and one where you can’t make any mistakes whatsoever which, thankfully, I didn’t. It’s been an incredible experience to race here, it’s a mega track.”Having only experienced a Formula BMW car for the first time at the Sepang Formula One Circuit in Malaysia last week, Alexander headed into pre-event Macau testing on Thursday with a huge challenge on his hands but ended up third fastest.Qualifying on Saturday produced a similar result with Alexander setting the fastest lap until a yellow flag delayed him. He was only able to complete three laps in total due to a number of accidents causing yellow flags on each tour and thus ended up third on the grid.McLaren Autosport BRDC Award announcement just three weeks awayWith his season’s racing completed, Alexander is now eagerly awaiting the evening of Sunday, 7th December, when he will find out if he has been chosen as the 2008 recipient of the McLaren Autosport BRDC ‘Young Driver of the Year’ Award.Selected as one of just six drivers short-listed to take part in a two-day evaluation at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk earlier this month, the Formula Renault UK Vice-Champion took the wheel of a Formula 3 car, an Aston Martin N24 racer and a spectacular DTM touring car. He then undertook an interview process with an esteemed panel of judges.The annual McLaren Autosport BRDC Award is the UK’s most prized motor racing accolade and has been won in the past by some of the sport’s biggest names including Formula One driver Jenson Button and recently retired Grand Prix star David Coulthard.Should Alexander become the 2008 award winner, he will win a cheque for £50,000 and a test in an Aston Martin GT1 sportscar. The biggest prize, however, will come in the form of a Formula One test in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One car.