Manor confirms first 2009 signings

Multiple championship winning Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition has officially confirmed the first three drivers for its 2009 campaign – Thomas Hylkema, David McDonald and exciting young lady racer Alice Powell.Second year Formula Renault UK driver Hylkema, who hails from Maarn in The Netherlands, joins the New Ollerton squad for a genuine tilt at achieving his maiden category podium and first ever race victory having contested the series during 2008 with Mark Burdett Motorsport.The 20-year-old, who studies aerospace engineering in his homeland, enjoyed good success in Vortex karting before graduating to cars in the Benelux Racing League in 2006. Claiming his first race win at the Nurburgring, Hylkema then moved into Formula BMW in Germany the following season and went on to contest the prestigious World Final.Surrey teenager McDonald is delighted to be making a return to competitive action after a year away in 2008. The season prior to his sojourn he raced in Formula Renault BARC with the Eurotek squad and made a big impact by taking a brace of podiums in the headline FR2000 Class, two fastest laps and two pole positions. He concluded the series sixth overall in the standings.The 19-year-old student, who lives in Ewell, was a multiple club kart champion before making the move into the high profile Super 1 Senior Rotax Championship in 2006. Sadly, injury meant he could only contest a part season but in that year’s Super Libre Winter Series he bounced back to prove his front-running credentials and ended the campaign inside the top 10.Perhaps Manor’s most intriguing signing is that of Ginetta Junior Championship front-runner Alice Powell, the teenager already gaining a reputation as one of the country’s premier lady racers. After an excellent year in the junior sportscar category, the Chipping Norton starlet is making the move to single-seater action and has already shown outstanding pace in testing.Alice, who only turned 16 years of age last Monday, received her deal with Manor as an amazing birthday present and has a terrific chance to become Formula Renault UK’s most promising female competitor since Susie Stoddart, who is now racing in the DTM touring car series.Manor is still to reveal its fourth signing but is currently in the process of testing several contenders for the vacant seat. The team hopes to officially confirm its final 2009 signing in the next couple of weeks.“We’re absolutely delighted to have signed three drivers so early and everyone at Manor is relishing working with Thomas, David and Alice throughout 2009”, commented team owner Tony Shaw, “All three have gone very well in testing so we’re all now fully focused on enjoying a productive pre-season and successful championship.”Last year, of course, Manor Competition came very close to securing both the main Formula Renault UK title and the Winter Championship crown with McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Alexander Sims and Henry Surtees respectively.Taking a total of three race wins during the course of the two championships, Manor also enjoyed 16 other podiums last year with rostrum success for Sims, Surtees and Northern Ireland’s Kris Loane.Team co-owner Sarah Shaw added: “Last year was a good year for us, everyone within the team worked tirelessly and we had a great level of success. With three new drivers, and one more to be confirmed, it’s all change for us but we’re really looking forward to the challenge. “Thomas and David obviously have some experience in Formula Renault so we’re hopeful they’ll be able to start the championship on a strong footing. I’ll be engineering Alice’s car and although she’s fresh to single-seaters, she’s been fantastic in the tests we’ve completed already.”

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