Promising Snetterton Test ..


New Ollerton-based Manor Competition continued its promising Formula Renault UK pre-season at Snetterton in Norfolk this week with Thomas Hylkema once again emerging as the quickest of the team’s trio of drivers.

Ending the two-day official test at the 1.95-mile circuit with the seventh fastest time overall, the 20-year-old Dutchman produced a best lap of 1m 04.744 seconds (108.53mph) on Thursday morning, 12th March, which actually placed him fifth quickest in that session. His pace was achieved without using new tyres, the team instead choosing to conserve fresh rubber.

Lap times over the course of the latest official test were incredibly close. Formula Renault returnee David McDonald was just three 10ths of a second outside his team-mate, his best effort of the two days giving a time of 1m 05.037 seconds (108.04mph).

The Surrey racer has been having problems with straight-line speed, something which is certainly a handicap at a circuit like Snetterton and, in particular, along the ultra-fast Revett Straight. The team did a superb job to change his engine within two hours on Thursday morning and once back on track, McDonald immediately showed an improvement in pace.

Alice Powell, meanwhile, set a quickest time of 1m 05.146 seconds (107.86mph) on day two, a couple of 10ths of a second faster than her best from Wednesday, 11th March, to end the outing just 0.8 seconds away from the overall pace.

Like team-mate Hylkema, Powell didn’t run with new tyres on Thursday as her pace on old rubber was very impressive. The 16-year-old did have a run on fresh rubber on the opening day of the test but her times were badly affected by traffic.

Manor team co-owner Sarah Shaw commented: “We’re all continuing to work very hard as the season edges closer and we’re incredibly pleased with the progress Thomas, David and Alice are making. The times at Snetterton were very close between all of the competitors, proving how important it is to learn as much as possible during the official tests.

“We’re very pleased with the pace we were showing on old rubber so the decision was taken not to run Thomas or Alice on new tyres on the second day and instead save them for the tests later in the year. The team did a fantastic job to change David’s engine and get him back on track inside two hours on Thursday morning and his pace then immediately improved.”

On the opening day at Snetterton, Wednesday, 11th March, Hylkema was the fastest Manor driver with a best lap of 1m 05.037 seconds (108.04mph), placing him eighth overall on the timesheets – just half a second shy of the top three.

McDonald and Alice Powell were very evenly matched once again, as has been the case during the whole pre-season build-up, with McDonald just 0.045 seconds outside the top 15 with a time of 1m 05.361 seconds (107.51mph). Powell produced a fastest lap of 1m 05.363 seconds (107.50mph), a mere two 1,000ths of a second shy of McDonald’s best, to conclude the day as the sixth quickest Graduate Cup driver.

Next stop on the pre-season Formula Renault UK testing calendar is Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire this coming Wednesday, 18th March.

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