McDonald & Smith Both On Pace

 At Two-Day Croft Test

 Off the back of a career best Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship finish at Thruxton a fortnight ago, Manor Competition’s David McDonald continued his good run of form at Croft in North Yorkshire this week with the sixth fastest time overall during the second day of official testing.

During the opening day of the test on Wednesday, 6th May, team-mate Dean Smith was the quickest of the Manor contingent with a best lap of 1m 17.944 seconds (98.08mph) placing him fifth overall on combined times for the day.

McDonald was also quick on Wednesday – where he ended up 11th on combined times – but upped his performance yesterday, Thursday, 7th May, to end with the sixth fastest lap. His best time of 1m 17.576 seconds (98.61mph) in the last of the four sessions actually placed him fourth in that particular period.

During the second of Thursday morning’s Formula Renault UK outings, the Ewell 19-year-old was as high as second quickest and was also in the top five in session one.

Wolverhampton-based Smith, meanwhile, was consistently in the top 10 in all four of yesterday’s runs and third fastest in the opening session. The 21-year-old was also in the top three on Wednesday morning but his best time of all came during session four on Thursday with a lap of 1m 17.676 seconds (98.48mph) putting him seventh in the session and ninth on combined times for the day.

Thomas Hylkema was ninth overall on day one – the second quickest of the Nottinghamshire team’s drivers on Wednesday – with a lap of 18.387 seconds (97.59mph) in the afternoon. During the first day’s opening period, he produced the 11th fastest time of 1m 18.685 seconds (97.22mph).

On day two, the Dutchman was 13th on combined times with a lap of 1m 17.874 seconds (98.23mph) coming during session four – his best effort of the day by around six 10ths of a second.

Single-seater rookie Alice Powell was a highly creditable 15th fastest on Wednesday morning, and fourth best Graduate Cup runner, with a time of 1m 18.917 seconds (96.93mph) – less than three 10ths of a second shy of team-mate Hylkema. In the afternoon, the 16-year-old improved her time to 1m 18.811 seconds (97.06mph) but ended the day just outside the top 20.

On Thursday, the Chipping Norton racer was 18th overall on combined times with a lap of 1m 18.065 seconds (97.99mph) in the final session. Earlier in the day, Powell was eighth fastest in the first run and ninth quickest in session two – third of the Graduate Cup drivers in both outings.

Speaking on the two-day official championship test, Manor Competition’s Tony Shaw said: “It’s been a really productive couple of days for us, it was quite windy which made things a bit more difficult for everyone but other than that things went very well indeed. All four of our drivers only ran half a set of fresh tyres but even so their individual pace was very good, as the times showed.

“David did a cracking job, as did Dean who worked hard through a lot of set-up variations, and with Thomas we worked on his technique in a couple of areas which went well. Alice had a spin on her fastest lap in session four yesterday which was a shame but all in all she did an excellent job.”

Manor bidding for first podium of season at home circuitFor the third race meeting of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship, the Manor team will be visiting its most local venue, Donington Park National Circuit in Castle Donington. Situated just over 30 miles from the team base in New Ollerton, the world famous track has certainly been a happy hunting ground for the squad in the past.

Taking place over the weekend 16th/17th May, the fifth and sixth rounds of the season could well bring the squad’s best results of the year so far and that’s certainly the aim of all four drivers and, of course, the team as a whole.

Shaw commented: “We’re quite confident for Donington and everyone is looking forward to it. The track has always been a happy hunting ground for Manor in the past so we’re confident of challenging for the team’s first podiums of the season. The two days of testing we’ve just had at Croft should stand our drivers in good stead, things are certainly moving in the right direction.”

Official pre-event practice for the Donington Park event takes place next Thursday, 14th May, with qualifying for the fifth and sixth rounds of the season timetabled for 10.35 and 15.25 respectively on Saturday, 16th May.

The first of the weekend’s races will begin at around 10.30 on Sunday, 17th May, with race two following at approximately 16.20. Both encounters will be contested over 16 laps and the second of the two will be screened live on ITV4 which is available on Freeview channel 28, through cable on channel 117 and on the Sky Digital platform at channel 120.

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