A podium for Josh Hill proved the highlight on a frustrating weekend for Manor Competition in the Formula Renault UK Winter Series at Pembrey. The 19 year old picked up his maiden Formula Renault podium in Round five as his team mates generally struggled to make an impact at the Welsh venue.
Arriving at Pembrey fourteenth in the standings after a tricky weekend last time out at Snetterton, Hill, the son of former Formula One World Champion Damon, took the podium as well as two other top seven finishes to end his debut Winter campaign in ninth place.
Hill showed his pace early on in the weekend, proving to be the fastest Manor driver in Saturdays qualifying. Lining up seventh on the grid for Round three, the youngster suffered a poor start to drop to tenth, before the race was forced to be red flagged. At the restart, he worked his way up to finish a solid seventh. His second fastest time in qualifying saw him line up ninth for round four, which he converted to a solid sixth place finish, just over a second off the podium finishers.
Hill once again shone in Sunday's qualifying, with his best lap time putting him fourth on the grid for Round five. Mastering the tricky conditions, he grabbed third on the first lap and proved a constant threat for second throughout, but had to settle for third, his maiden podium. Round six gave the team a tricky tyre choice between wets and slicks on a drying track. Manor went for Slicks, which proved the right choice, though Hill was unable to capitalise, spinning out of a top four place, ending up eleventh.
For team mate Ollie Millroy, the weekend ended in disappointment after heading into it with a realistic chance of taking the championship. Starting ninth for Round three, he gained a spot to eighth, before an incident after the restart dropped him to fifteenth. Eventually finishing twelfth, he was left with a lot to do in Round four to keep his title dreams alive. Starting eighth, he worked his way up to finish a solid fifth, just half a second off the podium.
A solid Sunday qualifying saw him line up fifth for Round five, but contact four laps from the end forced him into retirement, ending his title aspirations. In the final round, he ended up the team's best placed finisher in seventh, though would have liked to have ended up higher after starting on the second row.
Reigning Formula Renault BARC Champion Alice Powell suffered a frustrating weekend, with two top ten finishes on Saturday ruined by two retirements on Sunday. The 17-year-old started twelfth for Round three, working her way into the top ten after the restart. Lining up one place higher for Round four, a great drive saw her finish eighth. Rounds five and six ended in disappointment though, with accidents causing retirements in the opening couple of laps in both.
Completing the Manor quartet, rookie Jordan King continued to impress in his debut racing campaign. The 16 year old impressed many with his pace, qualifying 16th for both Saturday's races. Round three saw him work up his way up to 14th before the red flag. After the restart, a superb driver saw him work his way up into a superb top six finish, his best Formula Renault result. Round four ended in disappointment though, with contact forcing him to retire early on.
Starting 11th for Round five, he made good progress into the top ten early on, but damage to his front wing caused him to pit, putting him two laps down. He did manage to set the fifth fastest lap of the race though, proving his good pace. Round six proved tricky for King, with a spin dropping him to 20th and a lap down, after starting 12th.
It proved a mixed weekend for Manor, with team co-owner Sarah Shaw saying: “After a pretty strong weekend at Snetterton we had high hopes for Pembrey. We're delighted to have seen Josh take his first podium, and for Jordan to achieve his best result – we've been massively impressed with both of them.
“Ollie and Alice had awesome pace in testing but with qualifying not going their way, they were both in the wrong place at the wrong time in the races so ended up getting tangled up in incidents and therefore couldn't take the results they should have had and that their pace merited.”