Formula Renault UK Championship--
Brands Hatch Circuit, UK Round 1 and 2
of the British Formula Renault Championship were held at Brands Hatch
Circuit in Kent The 2008 season of Formula Renault UK got underway at
Brands Hatch Circuit. 19 years old Ryuji Yamamoto, entered for the
second season with Nissan NISMO Scholarship backing, started the first
race in the morning from 10th and finished in sixth place, a scant
0.009 seconds behind the fifth-placed finisher. Starting 8th in the
afternoon race, he drove consistently to finish 5th. In the first race,
he set the fastest lap of the race—a good start to the new season.
Brands Hatch is a circuit with many ups and downs, located
approximately 32km south east of London. It is a very traditional
circuit, and played host to F1’s British Grand Prix until 1986. The
Formula Renault races use the short course at 1.1986 miles (approx.
1.918km) per lap.
Yamamoto qualified for the first race in 10th. However, he was only
0.294 seconds from pole position, with an identical time as the
9th-place starter, and 0.02 seconds behind 8th. It was an even closer
race than last year.
At 10am, the 24-lap race began. Alexander Sims (UK), starting in
pole position fell behind, while Yamamoto grabbed a good start to
finish the first lap in 9th position. He then had tail-to-nose three
way battles with rival from last season, Adriano Buzaido (Brazil) and
Sho Hanawa (Japan). Yamamoto continued to keep 0.1 to 0.2 seconds ahead
of his rivals who are ahead of him. On lap 13, all three were
side-by-side on the home straight, then Yamamoto passed both rivals at
the roller coaster-like down hill first corner after the straight and
moved up to 7th.
On the 16th lap, Yamamoto moved up to 6th with recording his best
time, a 47.507. He then upped his pace every lap from there. On lap 17,
he set an even faster time of 47.341. On laps 19 and 22, he recorded
faster times yet again, shrinking the 5 second gap between him and
Chris Loaan (UK) to 0.7 seconds, while waiting for a chance to pass. In
the end, he took the chequered flag a mere 0.009 seconds behind Chris,
but enjoying this race and the confidence he gained from this intense
race is a huge step.
In the second race there weren’t as many changes in the order, but
Yamamoto battled with Sims, who took pole position in the first race
and Jordan Oakes (UK), who started from 4th in the qualifying race.
Mid-race,Yamamoto passed Oakes on the 16th lap, to go up to 5th spot.
He hung on to the position and took the chequered flag.
“We learned after analyzing the results of the practice sessions and
qualify that lower tire pressure makes for better machine balance
during the race, so we set the pressure low for the first round. The
car in front seemed to have good grip from the start (since he had high
tire pressure) but I fought hard to drive at a faster pace. In the
latter parts of the race, our tactic was proved correct and we were
faster about a second per lap, so I was able to drive calmly. The
battle was intense, but it was a great race. It’s a much better start
of the season than last year, when I began with a retirement. I feel
like I can keep this up this season. I came in 6th and 5th today. If I
make an effort to constantly complete the races, I think I can reach
the top step of the podium soon.”
NISSAN Driver Development Program (NISSAN D.D.P.)
2006, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda established a new formula car series
(single-seater machines, like in F1), Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ),
with the vision of educating young drivers to become world class
competitors. At the same time, Nissan and the two other makers started
a scholarship program for several drivers. In 2006 and 2007, Nissan
supported 4 drivers.
The inaugural season of FCJ in 2006, saw Yamamoto 2nd overall,
having scored the same number of points as the champion (the difference
being the number of wins). Same as last year, he received an Advance
Scholarship, a program unique to Nissan, to participate in the Formula
Renault UK championship in Britain this year as well. This category
uses formula cars built from a chassis made by Italian racing car maker
Tatuus, with a 2000cc in-line 4 cylinder production engine of Renault.
It is positioned one rank lower than F3 and is the same “middle
formula” as FCJ.
For the 2008 season, Nissan/NISMO provides scholarships to 4 young
drivers, carrying on from the previous season, supporting their
participation in FCJ.